How to Think Outside the (Art) Box

Where’d you get that?

Are you asking because you like it?
— Because you think it is hideous?
— Because it is unique?

I tend to over think my response to this question because this artwork is personal. It’s a collaborative work by my family.

The 4 x 2 canvas came from a local art store —along with a calligraphy marker and some gold paint. We used leftover house paint for the tan, red and beige. First, my husband painted the background off-white (no dribbles, every inch covered; he’s thorough). Next, we took turns dribbling paint á la Jackson Pollock. My son, who likes precision, puzzles and predictability, created the pattern on the left. It reflects his interests and his love of painter’s tape. The off-center gold and red glow is by my son who enjoys pretending, music and imaginative storytelling. He tells me that it is a beating heart. My youngest has a fascination with words: he reads and writes poetry. As a toddler he carried a notepad and pretended to take notes while others were talking. In the lower right corner he used the calligraphy pen to make hash marks that resemble words, leaving the meaning up to the viewer.

When you make art with your children, you help them realize that what they can imagine they can make real. Our collaborative art is also a visual reminder of how we can make something wonderful when we put our talents together.

What can you make with clay, bottle-caps or unused Legos? If someone in your family is an inside-the-lines sort, use Piet Mondrian for motivation. Does cartooning define your child’s comfort zone? Roy Lichtenstein’s art may be inspirational.

Dina Right of Artmart St. Louis created a very cool hallway in her home: she covered the entire thing with chalkboard paint then added sheets of  12” x 18” metal. The whole family can hang art with magnets or draw right on the wall. Her kids use chalk pens (the ones like the coffee shops use) to draw on the wall and write notes and inspirational words or comments. The pens give you the ability to create detailed work without the chalk dust – meaning less to clean up. Her son calls it their “hall of fame.”

As Pablo Picasso said, “Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once we grow up.” With collaborative art projects, parents can help make sure creativity – and its benefits – are not lost.

Expert Mommy, Diane Asyre is a professional writer and owns Asyre Communications.