Raising your kid as an artist.

As soon as I was old enough to hold a crayon I was always making art. I went to a vocational high school where my concentration was art and after that I went to college at the Massachusetts College of Art. Art is a big part of my life so when I found out I was going to be a Dad I had all these visions for how I would shape my daughter to be cool and unique. Then she was born. I quickly realized she would be the one shaping herself and thats what would make her unique, not me buying her Johnny Cupcakes t-shirts and playing Cursive records around the house.

Something I realized about 'good parenting' is knowing the difference between steering your child in what you feel is the 'cool and right' direction and just trying to make a "Mini Me". I'd like to think I'm the former in that category and not trying to make a Lil' Craigina. That being said, we're a very art-friendly family. By that I mean we have paintings hanging in our apartment, have turned our sun porch into a mini-studio for myself, Lauren has a sewing/knitting desk and we attend museums and galleries at least a few times a month. Sierra has an art table in our dining room with pens, pencils, markers, crayons, paints and plenty of paper. I don't think that is 'pushing her' into being an artist, as much as it is saying "Hey kid, check this out!" I want Sierra to make and appreciate art so I expose her to it, but if she turns 6 and says "Art sucks Dad, I don't get it. I like baseball.", I'll support her and gladly buy her a glove. So I want her to make her own decisions but it's also up to me to instill what I feel are good values into her.

Here is Lauren's Sewing Table (when it was first set up, I assure you it isn't this clean anymore haha!). Lauren has become quite the sewer and has made Sierra a little apron and a cute sundress this month. Check out her blog for photos!

This is a beautiful painting by a family friend, Annie Rebola, we have hanging in our home. We have a lot of art but this is our only 'original' and I love that Annie was nice enough to donate it to us. Click the link above to buy some of her paintings!!

Here are a few shots of our room, incuding all these neat old windows we got off craigslist for free.

I have read countless books about art education and how it is helpful in the development of a young child's brain and I think Sierra's development as a mini-artmaker is perfect and healthy. If I wasn't tired as shit after a long work week I'd drag out my plethora of art-teacher books and throw some facts at you, but like I said, I'm tired as shit so I found some info on a UMass Extension website instead. It discusses how art can help with Physical, Social, Cognitive and Emotional development as well as develop healthy habits in Imagination and experimentation. Read the details here.  Not only do I think art should be practiced in the house with young children but I am a very big supporter of keeping arts and music in schools. I went to school for art education like I said and I could write an entire books worth of thoughts on that subject but I won't bore you, check out these cute photos of my little artist instead:

Sierra loves art so much she even eats crayons. (This was not allowed btw, she had somehow snuck a crayon into the car and we were on an hour long drive when she did this - I should have known when she was being so quiet she was up to no good)

This is Sierra and our friend Annie (the artist who did the painting above), Annie is the nicest person ever and babysits for us from time to time, she is also a licensed art teacher and wonderful painter, what better baby sitter could you ask for?

Sierra and her sketch book. 

Here are some of Sierra's drawings. (Note: Sierra reading Goodnight Gorilla 

Sierra working very hard on a new drawing.

Here Sierra is at CafeNation, this awesome little coffee shop in Brighton that regularly houses local artists , Sierra loves looking at the art on the walls and points to the ones she like's best.

The toddler age is not only a great time for art making, but a great time for exploration of materials. Most people (teachers included) only allow crayons at that young age but Sierra has experimented with lots of materials: markers, pens, pencils, paints, collage, etc.

This was just last night at the Institute of Contemporary Art's new exhibit "The Record" this was a video piece, but as you know if you read this blog we are anti-TV with her so we let her listen but no video just yet little one. I know headphones aren't the best for kids, but I pick and choose my battles; the audio was soft and it's art not the new Lady GaGa single.

This was when we went to the Mark Bradford show also at Boston's Institute of Contemporary Art.

Heres a photograph of the baby and I working on some drawings together.

This was a drawing Sierra and I made together.

ClementineArt - Natural Soy Crayons

If anyone has any good thoughts about art for children, projects they have had success with or products that you think are awesome please leave a comment below! Would love to hear people's feedback. -Craig