The following article is written by Diana Mercer, Clementine Studio Founder, and provided by Clementine Studio, our hands-on, multimedia program that encourages the independent exploration of age appropriate art materials in a nurturing and inspiring environment. For more information, see www.openartsclementine.org
Supporting a child’s creativity includes providing a well-stocked space for them to do their thing. When designing an art space for your child, keep these elements in mind: Independence, Organization, and Inspiration.
Independence To encourage your child’s artistic independence, it is important to let go of any expectations for the outcome. For young children, it is the process of creating that is richly developmental. Encourage your child to make choices; the project that lights up their eyes, the materials they fancy, and how the project looks at the end (it’s hard, we know). Arrange art supplies in containers that make the contents visible and accessible to your child. Choose safe and age appropriate materials (child safety scissors, splat mats under the work space. Try interlocking foam floor tiles (from www.skiphop.com), so that all art time doesn’t require such close supervision. A little space goes a long way in creating an independent artist.
Organization Clean and well-organized spaces let children focus on their ideas and provide a sense of calm and order to the project at hand. This is not to say that the space won’t get messy, but your art area will be easier for you and your child to maintain when everything has a proper place. Also, art disasters like spilled paint and glue are less likely.
1. Put your child’s art up on the wall (We love a steel cable and clip system).
2. Choose clear jars for organizing materials by category (markers, crayons, paint, collage materials). We love the ‘candy store’ look.
3. Tape a photograph or drawing on the shelf of the item that goes in that spot. Even your young child can return items to their proper place.
Inspiration Creating an art area that is easy, manageable, and pretty is easy if you keep inspiration (for yourself AND your child) in mind. Choose colors that you both love for the walls and furniture, find beautiful, simple and natural materials, and remember to keep open spaces that will make room for new ideas. You won’t want to wait to start creating!