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Patience

Creating a Family Art Studio

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For years we had two giant shelves loaded with art supplies in the boys bedroom. Quite often I would hear them digging around, looking for just the right recycled box to paint and become some new part of a very elaborate Lego world. It was organized and seemed to work fine, aside from the occasional mess, but a visit to a creative friend's house made me consider taking it all a step further. She turned a small sun room into a children's art studio and it was pure magic.

My kids were delirious visiting her house and it seemed to ignite a new level of creating love. One weekend later I convinced my husband to give up a barely used sunroom/office to create our own family art studio. There is just something about claiming some territory and honoring creativity in the place where you live and spend so much of your time. The kids have spent hours upon hours since holed up in the little room, creating to their hearts content.

Here is what I have learned so far:

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Even the baby will want to participate. It helps to surrender to artsy mess and just let them get messy and into everything. We keep the any toxic or tiny supplies high and in tight containers, but markers, crayons and the like are fair game. Lyra constantly has marker all over her but she is happy.

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Use what you already have. Dig through junk drawers and recycle bins. You probably already have most of the supplies you need. It is just a matter of organizing it and laying it out in an accessible and inviting way. If this isn't your strong suit, invite and super clean neat freaky friend over, she'll know exactly what to do. Don't be afraid of getting rid of old stuff to make the clearing for the new space either. Think about why and how you use your current living spaces. Are they being utilized? Is a guest room really necessary? Can a space be shared if you really can't give it entirely over?

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Add some love to your space. Hang your children's own framed art work in the space. Put up shelves for sculptures and pottery. Don't forget to add photographs that remind you of beauty and family love. Music is a must have! My son Josiah made the art shown above after we were all sitting in the studio working on our own projects and listening to Yellow Submarine by The Beatles. We sometimes play family DJ and everyone picks a song to add to the playlist. All of it invites togetherness and creativity.

Do you have a small carved out for your art or work? What tips do you have for encouraging art in your home? Tell us in the comments.

10 Comments

inthefastlane writes...

Even if you don't have the space for an entire "studio" I have an "art box" for my younger kids. In the box is different types of paper, crayons, markers, scissors (when they were old enough), stickers, glue sticks. The box fits in my pantry and is labeled and they can pull it out whenever creativity strikes.

mary stamper writes...

I am in the midst of making a family art studio in our unused dining room. We've always had a bookcase full of art materials, but found ourselves forever clearing a space at the kitchen table.Our kids art desk only accommadated one at a time and once one person is creating, they all want to join in. I am looking to thrift a big table so we can have art parties! We can also use the room for homework and the kids computer. I teach art in a public school, so I am biased as to how important this is.I am sure we'll also have lego building and game playing in this fun space as well.Can't wait!!!

Ashley writes...

I have always said that art is good for the soul. I strongly encourage parents to have an art area for the whole family. Allowing the imagination to run wild and to experience creating a car on your own or a duck out of play-doh is a wonderful experience for a child and an adult. When you do it together, it becomes much more than making art it becomes a loving memory for a child. I am an artist and have a studio where my son and I make things all the time. I am proud to say that my son is the only one in his daycare that knows all his colors, shapes and can draw a straight line. He also can mix primary colors to get his secondary colors. At the end of the day, when we are reading books, he points out so many shapes and colors I can help but get excited that he had a fun day in the studio.

mesuba writes...

I actually just did this for my mom over the holidays. She's collected lots of arts and craft supplies over the years with big ideas of using them all when she retires. Its been stored here and there and has been unusable due to the lack of organization. I painted and reorganized my sister's old room into a beautiful guest bedroom and used the double doored closet for a craft supply closet. Clear drawers were added each labeled and filled with supplies per craft (stenciling, knitting, stamping, sewing, cross-stitching, etc) and soft sided sweater boxes were used to sort yarns, wools, and materials. Now when inspiration hits her, she can easily grab the needed items to create to her hearts desire. It was the best Christmas present ever :)

Patti writes...

I have a couple $20 plastic drawer units on wheels with our supplies next to the kitchen table. The kids do crafts, playdoh, and homework right in the kitchen while I'm cooking and cleaning. I have markers, crayons annd pencils in plastic containers with handles so that they can set the bins right next to them to work. Another fun idea is to put the craft supplies on a lazy susan on the table so that the kids can reach everything from all sides of the table.

Rebecca writes...

My mom did this when I was little back in the 80's in our basement. It was Awesome. I also have done this for my son in our last house in the basement (we had a decent basement with white painted walls, and lots of room to make a mess.) In our new place at the moment, there is no basement, so the supplies are a little spread out, but we use the dining room with a vinyl table cloth, and just clean it up when we're done - which we all should do anyway. You can really do this just about anywhere.

Karen writes...

I agree that you can do this in little space, so don't give up on this idea if you don't have an extra room! We live in an apartment without an room or even a nook to devote just to art, but I have a the craft supplies in a special cabinet near the dining room table. Small items are stored inside the cabinet in little wooden drawer sets from Ikea, different kinds of paper are on stacking paper trays, and paints/oil pastels/markers are in baggies or Solo cups on one shelf. Having a small space makes us think carefully about what we buy and cull what we don't love. And the things kids really need to get crafty are not so numerous anyway. Don't forget to clear at least one shelf and section of wall for a museum!

MarciaTheJewelryMaker writes...

To "MaryStamper": Love the "change-the-dining-room-into-an-art-room" idea! I've done that with my own dining room and have changed it into my hobby room, my Girls' homework/art/ hobby room; and everyonce in a while, the room will work as a dining room, if it has to be one ;-)

Kam writes...

This is a great idea.


May I suggest that paying a child for their artwork, even refrigerator art as I lovingly refer to it, fosters a sense of accomplishment, creativity, and satifaction. It also gives kids the idea that art might be a viable job/talent choice as a career. I believe art and artists are very under appreciated self expressions that kids do naturally. They should be rewarded. 50 cents to a dollar, nothing big. A little in$entive can go a long way.

I personally love refrigerator art, it's simple and true.

Victor writes...

What are burst of inspiration! My 2 kids will be in heaven if they have something like this! So what are the essential supplies to start with? Assuming I am starting from scratch?

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