THREE LOCAL ART EXPERTS SHARE HOW TO NURTURE YOUR CHILD’S ART APPRECIATION.
Before kids learn their letters and numbers or start talking, they are creating art. Whether it’s coloring, painting or spreading glitter all over the house, it’s a natural way for them to express themselves. As they get older, their relationship with art can continue to grow, and parents can help by getting kids to think more deeply about what they are creating and seeing in the artinfused world around them.
Buckhead resident Colleen Lane of Colleen Lane Art Advisory helps clients select and install meaningful works of art in their home. As a docent at the High Museum, she leads school tours to engage children with the museum’s collections. One way is by asking kids to read a painting like a book. “If it’s a scene, nothing abstract, you can look at different figures and say, ‘Is this scene at the beginning, middle or end of a book,’ and then you make a story from that,” Lane says.
She also applies the elements of STEAM to art, exploring how artists work like scientists when mixing colors and working with different kinds of materials. “It’s not just going and looking at a painting, but finding different ways to engage with it,” she says.
Spalding Nix of Peachtree Hills’ Spalding Nix Fine Art says it’s never too early to start introducing kids to art. “Kids are pre-wired to start enjoying and experiencing art. The earlier the better. Start exposing them to different types of artwork whether it’s in a museum or looking at a sculpture in a public space.”
For more formal art exposure, Nix suggests frequenting a museum that has a strong permanent collection. He and his two girls love visiting Emory University’s Michael C. Carlos Museum that is filled with Greek, Roman and Egyptian antiquities.
“It’s nice for kids to go back and see their ‘old friends,’” he says. “If you can pick a museum where they can go and feel comfortable and remember, ‘That’s that one we learned about last time,’ they can keep building on that.”
For more casual art exposure with fewer rules, galleries are ideal. Nix welcomes clients in with their kids, who often ask thoughtful questions and try to capture what they see exhibited in their sketchbooks. Plus, the art displayed in a gallery is often from local artists, making it easier for kids to connect with creators of the works.
“Galleries are a great place to get kids’ feet wet in the formal art world because they’re intimate spaces. There aren’t security guards standing there, and kids aren’t constantly being told ‘don’t touch this’ and ‘you are too close to that,’” Nix says. “At a gallery, you can take things off the wall and get as close as you want.”
Encouraging kids’ creation of art is also an effective way to grow their appreciation. Leontyne Robinson, youth and teen programming and development coordinator at Dunwoody’s Spruill Center for the Arts, leads art camps in drawing, painting, sculpture and more themed around kid-centric topics, such as Harry Potter, to capture students’ attention. She says it’s important to make sure art projects are at the right level and don’t require too much prep work, especially for younger kids.
“Make sure the activities are fun and something easily accessible for them to start and complete,” Robinson says. “If they have difficulty cutting circles or other types of shapes, cut the shapes for them.” As kids get older, critiques can also help them grow as artists. Robinson has been integrating this into the kid and teen classes at Spruill to great success. “We tell kids not to be nervous or afraid to get a positive or a negative critique,” Robinson says. “Take it as a way of learning and growing as an artist.”
Colleen Lane Art Advisory
Spruill Center for the Arts
Contributing home editor and design columnist at Simply Buckhead. Travel & Business Writer. Mother of Two.