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In March of 2020, I checked out this drawing book from the library, and it changed my life.
Dramatic opening line? Yes. True statement? Also yes!
By using just simple shapes and lines, I made a sailboat, then a giraffe, then a bunch more stuff. The kids got into it, too, and we found other drawing tutorials and YouTube videos. We started calling it the art gallery and have maintained it ever since. Here is the gallery last December. (A brief aside: I could apologize for our house looking messy, but the truth is that family life is messy, both literally and figuratively. In future posts I’ll skip acknowledging the mess and instead just let you take comfort in knowing someone else’s clutter is worse than yours. Okay, now that that’s over with, onward.)
Here are six reasons why I think YOU should start your own family art gallery.
1. Drawing will bring you into a state of flow. Flow is that magical process of becoming completely wrapped up in what you’re doing. You lose track of time. You’re relaxed, yet also super focused. The benefits of flow apparently include greater fulfillment, greater happiness, and more. Some kid activities bring on the opposite of flow, e.g. that tendency to want to sneak glimpses at your phone while playing a particularly tedious game of Candy Land. But with drawing, you’ll become immersed in the process, and that’s a beautiful thing.
2. Your drawings will give you joy every time you look at them. Both viewing art and making art are good for us! In recent weeks, I’ve loved sitting at the dining room table and gazing at our Halloween gallery. Don’t let perfectionist, “I can’t draw!” tendencies get in the way; with drawing books designed for kids, success comes easy even to those of us with no innate drawing skills.
3. Drawing will help you embrace the present. Seasonal drawings emphasize what’s special about this particular time. They’ll make you pay attention to what’s meaningful and warm-fuzzy-inducing. Plus, drawings make for cheap and easy and personalized holiday decorating! And if there’s no holiday coming up or you don’t happen to want to draw things related to it–which I get, because I’m still trying to decide if I really want to draw pumpkin pie and turkeys–you can never go wrong with animals and vehicles.
4. Drawing will spark creativity that spills into other areas of your life. Drawing lit a creative fire in me. I started seeing opportunities to create art all around me. Sidewalk chalk art for St. Patrick’s Day. Photography to capture spring beauty. Waffles turned into American flags for the 4th of July. Coffee mug planters for my bookshelf. And lest you think I just happen to be a naturally artsy person, one look at my freehand four-leaf clover will surely convince you otherwise.
5. Creating the gallery will provide an opportunity to scheme and dream together. When the boys and I create new art for the gallery, that old adage “it’s the journey, not the destination” applies. First we get some inspiration by flipping through books and talking about our associations with the given holiday or season. The boys’ eyes light up as the ideas start to flow and before long they’re working away and giving me assignments. In the weeks that follow, we continue to add new drawings to the gallery. Last, when it’s time to switch things up, each kid picks one or two favorite drawings to hold on to. The whole process from planning to teardown is a bonding experience.
6. Drawing is a great way to spend time together. You know how sometimes your kids have been whiny since the moment they got up and the weather is crappy and it’s only 10 a.m.? A project like the art gallery is a godsend on those types of days. Take today. My kids don’t have school. Our outings are pretty limited due to a baby nap schedule, so we’ll have a whooooole lotta time at home together today. One of the things I have planned is to take down our Halloween drawings, start working on some Thanksgiving ones (or some animals and vehicles – see #3), and maybe do some more drawing just for fun while we’re at it. Bonus: it’s way more fun than having to pretend to be the puppy owner or smash Hot Wheels cars into each other to see whose car flips first.
So there you have it. I hope you’re inspired to give an art gallery a try!
Are there simple ways you and your kids get creative together? I’d love to hear your ideas in the comments.