Written by Melissa Taylor
Recently, I wanted to push my creatively, to find my inner visual artist, so I started an art journal—a journal where I could find both written and visual ways to express myself. (Normally, as a freelance writer and blogger, I’m all about words.) It didn’t take long before I realized that art journals would be great for my two daughters, ages six and nine.
Think about it. Kids start expressing themselves visually from the moment they can hold a crayon. They use drawing and coloring to share their feelings with the world in the same way we use words. In fact, kids first understand letters as shapes, not as abstract concepts with meaning and sound. (Which is why we see beginning writers write backwards, reversed, or in mirror images.)
What’s more, there is no “right way” to do art or journaling! Which is good for kids and for me, since my journal pages aren’t all that um, artistically pleasing—yet.
Here’s the thing—I want you to do this with your kids.
Because . . . if you art journal with your kids, you’re modeling your own journey as a writer and artist. It’s literally the best motivation you can give children. They already want to be like you, right? (teenagers excluded) If you live a writerly and / or artistic life, (most) kids will want to do the same, without you even asking.
Ready to get started art journaling with your kids?
Here are a few things to consider.
Space to Create
Have a designated space in your house where your kids can create. Here is one of our spaces. We also have a long card table set up in the dining room which is always empty and ready for projects.
Art and Writing Supplies
You want to have your supplies available and ready, access depending on the age of your kids. As you can see from the photograph, I have bins which inside have
- paper (plain, colored, recycled, index cards, lined, etc)
- beads, buttons, ribbon, fabric scraps
However, I keep a separate tub exclusively for art journals. This includes my daughters’ Strathmore journals, old magazines for collages, paints, colored pencils, books for inspiration (Doodle Diary and Bubble Writer,) glue, and scissors. This way, the tub can be carried anywhere in the house for the girls to set up and art journal.
Art Journal Pages
Again, lead by example. Sit down with your kids when you can and talk about your process so they can overhear.
“I really want to do something about Christmas, it made me feel so joyful – I wonder about a collage?” (Meanwhile, pilfer through supplies, and continue narrating.) “How about if I use wrapping paper and cut out words from magazines?”
“What if I water colored a page, and then collaged over it? I bet that would look cool . . . Hey, do you want to try that with me?”
There are two reasons I do this.
1. I am not an artist so I have no clue what I’m doing. This feels authentic to me—to explore together.
2. Even if I were an artist, I’d prefer to share process ideas (using different visual mediums) rather than product ideas. So, I’d rather say, let’s try using watercolors or let’s try to do something about winter than today is the day we all draw houses. But, that’s just me. Plus, this is a journal, it’s meant to be self-expression. Experiment!
I started out hoping for brilliant frameable art journal pages like I saw on other people’s blogs. That didn’t happen.
When I considered why, here’s what I realized—for me, art journals for kids (and for us big kids) are more about process and expression that it doesn’t even matter how the end product looks. As we will grow in the experience, I know our end products will probably mature and look different. Essential to my life experience is the need to create, maybe it’s the same for you. One could argue it’s essential to the human experience. Therefore art journaling is about the process of being creative, unrestricted, ugly, pretty, messy, neat, silly, profound, quiet, loud, sad, happy, expressive . . . without judgements.
Whatever happens in a journal is.
Have you art journaled before? What about your kids? Won’t you join us in art journaling, too?
Art Journaling Resources
About the author ::
Melissa Taylor is a mom, writer, blogger, and educator. She blogs at Imagination Soup, a playful learning blog for inquisitive kids, and freelance writes for publications online and in print. contact info: [email protected], Twitter, Facebook