Any parent who has uttered the phrase, “Guess what, we’re going to an art museum!” has probably been met with blank stares and a dispiriting “awww” from the kids. And anyone who has tried to appreciate art while impatient children tug on their arm understands why it’s tempting to leave the little ones at home when visiting some of Edmonds’ many art galleries, festivals, plays and musical performances.
Which is a real shame. Edmonds has a thriving artist community that provides many opportunities to help kids appreciate, get inspired by and explore art in its many forms. You just may have to get crafty to do it.
In my experience, kids are more receptive to exploring other people’s art if it’s somehow related back to them. (The same way they’re more likely to enjoy a trip to the mall if they get to shop for themselves while they’re there.) Just remember that your goal is to make the excursion interesting and fun for the child. Even a brief art festival or gallery visit can be beneficial. And you don’t have to know a lot about art to make it educational for them – they’ll discover what’s beautiful and inspirational to them on their own.
One way to get your kids to appreciate local art and artists (without the sour faces) is to have an “Art Day.” Just bring the kids to downtown Edmonds and let them know they have a mission: to find three pieces of art to serve as inspiration for an art project of their own.
Use the map from the Edmonds Art Walk (held the third Thursday of each month) to plan your day. Then spend just a few minutes in each gallery. (Kids on a “hunt” like to move fast.) After all, it’s more important to expose them to art than to make them spend “quality time” with it.
Ask your child to choose one painting, photograph or sculpture from each gallery you visit. Once they make their choice, ask what it is that they like about it. To help the child remember the piece, ask a gallery attendant if you may photograph it to serve as inspiration for the child’s project. If they say no, commit a few details to memory or make notes.
After two or three gallery visits, return home to help your child create their masterpiece. Gather the art supplies and suggest that they take one element from each of their inspiration pieces to create a new and original piece of art. (This approach will also help them from being disappointed that their piece doesn’t look like the original.) You may also need to help them remember the pieces they chose for inspiration or print out the pictures you took during your excursion. Then, stand back and let the creating begin!
Another fun way to turn their inspiration into artwork is to stop by Glazed and Amazed on Main Street in Edmonds. There, they can use glazes, sponges, paintbrushes, stamps and stencils to create beautiful, whimsical and even useful glazed ceramic items. The shop has several tables set up with all the tools you’ll need – plus a helpful staff to get you going. To start, I recommend having young children paint flat objects like a small plate or bowl.
On other art days, use Edmonds beaches, parks or architecture as your inspiration pieces. Just remember to keep the day relaxed and fun, and your child will be asking for another “Art Day” before you know it.
David W. Edgerton is an Edmonds resident, parent and author of “Tear-Free in Disneyland,” A parent’s guide to less stress and more fun for the whole family – available at Edmonds Bookshop and Amazon.com. You can read our interview with Edgerton about that book here.