7 tips for getting creative with the kids at home!
2 min read
We’re delighted to present this guest blog from illustrator Leonie Shearing who shares her top 7 tips for getting creative with the kids at home.
I’m a children’s book illustrator and character designer. At the beginning of lockdown I set up a free online sketchbook club for kids of all ages, it lasted for 4 months and had over 500 members. I watched some incredible changes in confidence and ability, so here are a few handy hints to help you get creative with the kids at home!
1. Don’t make art another lesson
We make marks before we learn to walk or talk, it’s such a natural process but, if forced, kids will see it as a chore and avoid. So, with your child’s help, set up a creative corner – it doesn’t need much room. Have an area to display their favourite creations, fill cups, tins, boxes with pens, pencils, brushes and paints (if you’re brave!). I even colour code each tin so that you end up with a rainbow of materials! Make it fun and accessible and always have paper available.
2. Start with a fun warm up
Scribble all over a sheet of paper in thick black pen. Then take turns finding images in the scribbles, a bit like spotting cloud shapes in the sky. Use colour and add features eg – if you see a cat, give it a face and whiskers. It’s a great way to get the brain to think visually.
3. Inspiration is the key
Reading picture books together is a natural way of thinking creatively – it doesn’t need a trip to the Tate Modern! Children’s illustrators are very aware of their audience, so the artwork is automatically much more relatable. Point out the characters, the style, the colours. Suggest that you try and draw your own versions together – for instance The Snail and The Whale, The Jolly Postman.
4. Celebrate mistakes!
I’ve taught the kids in my art club about the NEED for mistakes. It’s all part of the growth mindset… Show your child that every mark made is progress – that elements of the drawing they’ve made might actually be really great! I still make regular mistakes and I’ve been an illustrator for 25 years! If there is something that they like about their mistake, stick it in a sketchbook for them to refer to… which leads me to…
5. Sketchbook Superstars!
This is the name of my art club, for very good reason! All the bits of paper with discarded creations, floating around the house like LEGO… limit it with an addition of a sketchbook. Use it as a visual diary – some kids enjoy ‘a drawing a day’ others with their own characters, doodles, their favourite colours, stick in things that inspire them… leaves, flowers, sweet wrappers, photos from magazines. When that first sketchbook is full, there’s an incredible feeling of success!
We all know those days of frustration – head on table, tears, pencils strewn over the floor…
Admitting to your child that this is perfectly normal, that walking away from the artwork and doing something else will actually help them want to do it again. Don’t set time limits, allow them to ask for help but never draw over their own work to show them how you think they should do it – I have learnt from this the hard way!
7. Feed back by joining in!
Each piece of artwork is such a personal thing. Try not to lavish praise too much… but the best suggestion I can offer is to join in! Do some art too. Then allow your child to critique your work… it’s not only fun but enables them to then look at their work in a similar way and – you never know – they may even ask for your opinion!
There you have it, 7 top tips for getting creative with the kids at home.