Art pen pal, art group, and other questions for you

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Okay, today is a bit of a brain dump so please bear with me. I have several things I want to share / ask / just get out there and while I should probably wait and give them each their own separate, neat post, I'm not feeling neat today. I feel like I'm spilling over with all of this and if I don't get it down now, it's not going to happen at all.

So, with that said, let's get started on this brain dump…

    1. First, I want to thank you all for being here. For being amazing. For joining me in this parenting journey. It's a work in progress – for me anyway. And thank you for leaving little bits of love and ideas and feedback via your comments. I LOVE your comments! Love the conversations that happen here. Go read all the comments on MaryAnn Kohl's interview if you're not usually someone who reads comments. Talk about an outpouring of appreciation and love! You guys are amazing! Thank you.

And thank you for all of your e-mails, too. I love them as well and apologize if I haven't always been quick to reply (or even if some have gotten so far down in my inbox that I've forgotten about them completely. I'm really sorry about that!). I'm turning over a new leaf now, I promise. If I don't get back to you right away, I will sit down and respond to all unanswered e-mails each weekend.

    2. Okay, next up. I love the idea of an art pen pal program and it sounds like many of you do, too. While Art in All of Us has an art pen pal program between entire schools (or classes) in different countries to promote cultural understanding, they don't have one for individuals. But how about if we start our own little art pen pal program ourselves for individuals? I would be happy to help with the initial coordinating. If your kid wanted to participate, then you could e-mail me with your contact info and I could help match up kids (of similar ages for example) to get you started. Anyone interested?

Kids could send drawings, paintings, whatever, to each other with or without words/letters. I could see the appeal for kids of all ages. Who doesn't love to receive mail?! Also, it can be fun to collaborate on a drawing through the mail (just as a fun variation to the art pen pal idea). My grandma and I did this sometimes. She was essentially my art pen pal growing up. Once I sent her a drawing of a car and asked her to fill in the people. She added a wonderful, interesting family complete with captions. So fun!

Anyway, whether sharing artwork or collaborating on a drawing with your art pen pal, I think this idea has a lot of potential. Potential for FUN. And I'm all about fun! Okay, so anyone with me on this? Are any of you interested in some sort of art pen pal program?

    3. Now that I've gotten those two out there, here's the next… I've been wondering how many of you have started art groups? I feel like I've heard from so many of you, either through comments or e-mails, but I haven't kept track at all. So, consider this a roll call. I would absolutely love to know how many of you have started an art group or are participating in an art group. If you're not a commenter-type, and I know many of you aren't, please send me an e-mail ([email protected]). I want to know!

    4. On to number four… I'm still learning about this new blog platform I'm on. I'm still learning about Typepad. I'm not a techie by any stretch of the imagination, so I apologize if I seem a little slow about getting all the kinks worked out. For example, I'm aware that the search button is only pulling up entire categories rather than individual posts. I'm working on that! And I know I still have yet to get my blogroll up on this new site. That's next on my to do list. And, of course, there's that wonky formatting on many of the old posts. I may work on that as I have extra time (i.e. probably not any time soon). Thank you all again for coming over to my new blog! If you haven't already, please update your links and your e-mail and blog reader subscriptions (you can use the handy links in the sidebar)!

    5. Oh, and also, please tell me what you'd like to see in this blog. What questions you have that you'd like to see answered. What features you'd like to see. I know some of you have asked some already — such as what are my all-time favorite art activities for kids, what are some holiday gift ideas that young kids can make themselves, what are my favorite art materials for preschoolers and older kids, where's my blogroll, and that you want a search function. I'll work on answering (or providing) these soon. What else? Let me know while I'm making my list…

Okay, how's that for a long, messy brain dump?! Did you get all that?

Here's a recap of what I want from you. Please tell me if you have an art group, if you're interested in some sort of art pen pal program, what you'd like to see on my blog, and please update your links and subscriptions if you haven't already. So bring it on! I expect lots of comments and e-mails…

I promise to keep it short, sweet, and artful tomorrow.

With love to you all!


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  1. says

    After reading Young at Art, I started an art playgroup for my son when he was 2.5 (he’s almost 5 now) but it never really got off the ground. Unfortunately it was really hard to get people to commit. I might be jaded, but I found this strange since they will commit to music classes for toddlers or gymboree or something — maybe they didn’t feel a commitment since there was no exorbitant fee involved? But also I may have made the mistake of trying to have the host rotating every week instead of just hosting myself all the time.
    Now my local mom’s club has an art playgroup and I sign up to host frequently but the attendance is always low — sometimes we are the sole attendees. I feel sad about this, that I haven’t found others as committed to open ended art as we are.

  2. says

    I would LOVE to participate in an art pen pal program, or whatever you are calling it. My son is almost 5 and loves mail and art.. he would have so much fun with this..
    And I have also hosted art groups here at my house. Though we have stopped them for now, but I am sure we will pick them up again in the future. LOVE doing them!

  3. says

    Hi Jean!
    I’ve never commented before but I love your blog!! I have a 2.5 year old daughter who is a quite the artist and a 2 week old!! yay for babies!!
    We would love to participate in your art pen pal group also. That is such a neat idea. My daughter draws and paints nearly everyday.
    You do some of the neatest projects with your daughter. I loved the water color/leaf/seran wrap paintings. Those were so neat!!

  4. says

    I would love to take part in an art pen pal program! I love the idea, I will email you with my info.
    In regards to an art group, I am reading up and preparing to start one as soon as this little guy is born in February. I think it will be a special time for my two older girls and allow my brain to get back into my preschool teacher mode, once the fog of infanthood wears off, of course. :)
    Thank you for posting, I really enjoy your blog. You inspire many of us and I know how grateful we all are. Warm autumn regards

  5. Diane says

    Hi Jean,
    I’ve also never commented before, but read your blog regularly for inspiration on so many levels. I would love to have my daughter participate in an art pen pal program. She’s not quite two yet, but we have worked art time into our regular schedule, thanks to all of your advice and ideas.

  6. Kathleen says

    I would definitely be up for the pen pal arrangement! Fun! I am a musician by training and find it easy to incorporate music into our everyday lives, but the art is more of a challenge for me. Your blog has been a wonderful learning tool and inspiration for me. If you have any advice or lessons learned on starting an art group from scratch, I would love to hear this.

  7. says

    Hi Jean,
    I comment infrequently, but read your posts all the time. Thanks you for all you do! On to your questions…
    I have not started an art group, although I wish I had or could. Space is an issue. I thoroughly enjoy all the posts you write about what your group has been up to, though!
    I’d LOVE to be part of an art pen-pal group….my kids are 2, 4 and 11, and this would be a lot of fun for us. I can help with organizing, too, if you want. But definitely count us in. :)
    I like the new blog, and don’t have anything I need from you on that subject. I’m a happy Typepad user myself. :)
    Anyway, thanks for letting us peek in on your world and for sharing your life and art with us! Keep up the good work!

  8. Kathie E says

    Hi Jean — I would love to join the art pen pal group for the twins. (Two three year old boys.) – Kathie

  9. says

    We would love to be in on the pen pal group (4 yr old gir, 2 yr old boy). I had a pen pal, a good friend who moved away as a child and then back to my hometown when we were in high school. We never sent art but pictures and letters and I always treasured them.
    Second, we have done an art group.
    Third, as you probably know, I just adore your blog. It is my very favorite. I love the interviews, the projects and the little bits of life that you share.

  10. Monique says

    We are interested in the art pen pal, girl aged 5.
    I read your first article in a Mothering issue, and later discovered your blog a few years later and quickly made the connection! We have never done an art group, but I would have liked to. Your blog is outstanding, it is the only resource I need. Thank you!!!

  11. Kandyce says

    I definitely want to participate in the art pen pal thing! I save the AIAU site to contact them about their willingness/ability to work with a homeschooling group. But, I have yet to do that and your proposal sounds better anyway. Yah! I’m so excited.
    I don’t have a regularly meeting art group, but I have done seasonal art groups for my homeschooling community. I had planned to start a more regularly meeting group after the first of the year using Mary Ann Kohl’s Great Artist book (how serendipitous!)
    I love your blog the way it is. I really appreciate the mixture of the personal, the educational, inspirational. The interviews are great… I just really enjoy the space you have carved out here.

  12. Erica says

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  14. says

    I just recently stumbled upon your blog and am really enjoying it. I think my daughter would be really interested in the art pen pal program. She draws lots daily. She is 10 years old. We have somewhat of an art group that meets at my house twice a month. I started an Artist/Composer Co-op in September. We just recently studied about Botticelli. We read a short bio, studied paintings by the artist, and created a picture in the round. You can reach me at

  15. Jessica says

    Hi Jean,
    I started reading your blog about a year ago, when coincedently I was researching how to start an art group:0). Your blog proved to be such a wonderful resource; as a parent,art group facilitator, and a preschool teacher! (I taught preschool for 1.5 years and now operate a Licensed Family Childcare). I find myself referring to your old posts often in search of new ideas or just when I need inspiration as a parent.
    After visiting the AIA website, I realized my school would not be able to participate in the penpal program. I too thought about individual pen-pals. I think this is a fantastic idea and would love for my 2 1/2 year old daughter to participate.
    Thank you again for being bookmarked as my favorite website!!!

  16. Vera says

    Dear Jean,
    yes, yes, yes, we would love to participate in the art pen pal program. My son Vanja is three years old.
    About the art group, hm… I couldn’t call it an art group since we meet from time to time, not regularly. But, I do do art with Vanja, very very often, and your blog is a great resource for us. Please, don’t you ever stop posting :)
    All the best,

  17. says

  18. says

    I’ve never heard of art pen pals before, but I think it sounds great! I have three girls…7, 5 and 2. They love art, and love getting mail even more!

  19. Mags says

    Thanks for the brain dump!
    I would like to read more about:
    – starting to make art a regular part of the kids’ daily life – do you do art daily? what would you recommend? (for eg and to helps us beginners along – would you name an activity you’ll do in a week’s time, list the materials/details, then we can gather things over the week and be ready for when you do the activity and blog about it? or is this too too too beginner!)
    – What do you think makes it easy to incorporate art activities? (eg an organised space? books? schedule?)
    – Where do you start if your art materials are all over the place? How do you teach them to look after the materials – tips on this.
    -I would love to start a group with my friends – how did you manage it weekly with other things going on? I thought F/N would be ok?
    – Will you write about any of your own blocks to doing art/creative things – alone and with the kids?
    – Process – from the beginning – getting an idea from reading a children’s book to making the art around this.
    I really enjoy reading your blog, especially about the process of doing art with the kids (I know your baby will be into it as soon as she can).

  20. Amanda says

    We’d love to be involved in your art pen pal program Jean. I have two girls, one is 3yrs and the other is about to turn one on Sunday. I have been keen to run an organised art group for sometime andf was very happy when I came across your blogsite. I aim to do one after we move to our new house. When friends come for playdates I always set up art activities to keep the kids busy and creative.

  21. Alex says

    My 2 1/2 YO daughter says she’d like an art pen pal. We know ALL boys her age so it would nice to get matched up with a girl somewhere!

  22. Erin says

    Hi. I’d love for my seven year old to join the art pal group. I have an art group still in the planning phase for my toddler and a friend. My 17month old recently stopped eating all the art supplies, so I think we can go for it! Thanks so much for all the inspiration here.

  23. Amanda says

    I have just started an art group after following your blog for the last six months. Its a little hit and miss with attendance but it gives me a great excuse to set some time apart to do art with my girls 2 and 4. I used to teach art k-12 and for some reason I was really intimidated by the toddler crowd. However, after seeing the work that you do it has brought back some of that confidence I once had. Thanks!!

  24. Prerna says

    we would love to be part of a art pen pal program- I have a 2.5 year old and we love to do art at home. We are considering starting an art group as we have recently moved and were busy getting settled. thanks for all the great inspiration.

  25. Leela says

    Does it count that I *want* to start a art group? I just don’t know how to yet.
    Also, I think my daughter would be interested in art pen pal program – 3 years old. We just don’t do it regularly enough but I think if we had goals it would become more regular.

  26. says

    Hi Jean
    We would would absolutely love to participate in your art pen pal group. My three year old daughter loves to draw, paint and experiment with colours. It would be wonderful to exchange our artwork with another little friend. We live in Australia. Would this be open to international partcipants? I really hope so, but understand if that is not possible. Thank you proposing such a great idea.
    Your blog is a delight to follow, full of fantastic ideas, inspiring and uplifting. I look forward to hearing more about your art pen pal group.

  27. says

    I love the idea of an art pen pal for my nearly four-year-old daughter.
    An art group? In theory I have a small group of one other family and mine at the moment but it’s been challenging to get it happening regularly. There are others interested, but I think it does takes one person to commit and organise it all. I have fears about the level of work involved as well as not feeling like I know enough about art or techniques or materials myself.
    Having said that, the interview and comments that followed the Mary Ann Kohl interview have inspired me to be like a young artist in my approach to the group and go forth making mistakes and learning as I go! So – I’ve got a feeling there will be a real happening Art group round these parts soon (well, when we return home after a two-month o/seas holiday there will be.)
    And thank you for inspiring and leading us to others who inspire.

  28. says

    Yes, my 4 year old daughter would LOVE to have/be an art pen pal. We marvel at her creativity – innate in all children, I think, but she is our firstborn, so it continually takes us by surprise.
    We do not have an art group yet, but I would really like to start one. I’m not sure what the interest level among our friends and neighbors will be, but it’s worth a shot.

  29. says

    Hi Jean
    I thought I had left a comment here, but it does not seem to appear. So, take two. I have a three year old daughter who loves to draw, paint and create. We would be thrilled if it were possible to be part of your art pen pal group. We live in Australia. Is this group open to international participants?

  30. kelli says

    I’m a few days late — we just started an art playgroup. The two other moms who show up regularly are pregnant and due in December/January. So, we’ll see how long it lasts. Maybe we’ll work up until the holidays and then start up again in the spring when everyone needs to get out again. Anyhow, it’s motivation for me to set up projects for my kids (1, 3, 5) — usually the group meets when my oldest is in Kindergarten, but that may change.

  31. says

    Hi Jean,
    Sorry to be behind on posts! Yes, art pen pal sounds great. Yes, done the art group! Yes, anything you say I love to read! I think that covered some of the questions. Have a great weekend!

  32. anna says

    My moms group has art meet ups that were inspired from your blog. I would LOVE to be a part of the penpal program. My daughter just turned 3.

  33. says

    Yes, we would love to take part in an art pen pal exchange….my son is 6 and my daughter is 4. I am also in the process of starting up an art group here in Sicily…a mix of American and Italian families. Love the look of the new blog site.