There's no feeling more pure than the freedom of creating something totally unique and entirely from your own imagination. From finger painting to macaroni masterpieces, art holds a special place in kids' growing up years, and experimenting with different types of creativity at a young age teaches people to express themselves in ways other than with words. Plus, it's just plain fun!
No one knows this better than Patricia Chang, an New York City-based designer who has built an entire career on sharing her wonderfully whimsical creations with the world. Her experience spans everything from fashion to graphic design, but her current — and most important — artistic endeavor is instilling in her two young sons, Chase and Hugo, the ability to own, express, and grow their creativity.
To learn how a real-life artist manages to engage her kids in art, Romper teamed up with Patricia and DairyPure for a first-hand look at her process. In this case, that meant being a fly on the wall in the family's home as they worked together to transform their New York City apartment into a lush jungle scene, using only some crafting supplies, plus, of course, their imaginations.
Here's what Patricia wants parents to know about using art to create pure moments of creativity with their kids.
1. Start With Accessibility
The first step to getting your kids to appreciate and enjoy art, is, spoiler alert: making it available to them. It may sound like a no-brainer, but Patricia notes that once she saw how much her son Chase enjoyed his baby art class, it dawned on her that she needed to stock their home with supplies, ensuring that his creative expression didn't stop when they walked out the classroom door.
"When I saw what [he] loved to do in art class, I was inspired to bring those mediums home. Now they have little safety scissors, markers, clay, and so much more! It’s always available and they just have to ask for the ‘art box.'"
2. Expand Your Definition Of 'Creativity'
As much as she encourages traditional painting and crafting, Patricia encourages parents not to overlook opportunities where kids can use their creativity in ways that aren't so grounded in art. As her kids have gotten older, she's noticed them taking the skills that they've learned from art classes and projects, and applying them to different, totally unrelated challenges.
"Over time I’ve seen their creativity not just in the actual art they make, but in the activities they do," she tells Romper. "I find that they use creativity all the time when it comes to finding solutions and problem solving."
3. Boredom Doesn't Have To Be A Bad Thing
It's common for parents to view boredom as some terrible sign of non-engaged children that's to be avoided at all costs. But in her own family, Patricia has come to see boredom not as a parental failure, but as a limitless opportunity to give her boys the autonomy to develop their own unique senses of creativity.
"My kids wake up and the first thing that they say is that they’re bored," she tells Romper, laughing. "But I think that it’s a good thing because it challenges them to find a way to play and to create — to figure out a solution to their boredom."
4. For Adults, Being Creative Isn't As Easy As You'd Think
Even if you invest in the best art supplies and schedule precious calendar time devoted to letting your kids' creativity run wild, Patricia believes that the best way to get your family's creative juices flowing is for parents to actually join in on the fun.
"For parents, the hardest part is actually turning off work, putting away your phone, sitting down, and engaging and creating with kids," she says.
And even though that may seem like a pipe dream in the midst of hectic days and overbooked calendars, Patricia reiterates that giving your undivided attention to your kids and their artistic endeavors can benefit parents as much as it benefits kids.
"There’s definitely joy in watching them be creative; there’s something about them making art that is very satisfying for me as their mom."
This post is sponsored by DairyPure.
Photographer: Winnie Au; Art Director: Julie Vaccaro; Prop Stylist: Kristine Trevino; HMU Artist: Brett Jackson; Producer: Kat Fry; Editor: Suzanne McKenzie