(By Jennifer L. Jacobson) – As a parent, foster parent, or influential adult in a teen’s life, your attitude and approach to art shapes how your teen thinks about art. While we all know that creating art and painting is a great way to express yourself and build confidence, if it’s not something you’ve done before, getting into art can be a daunting task.
So how do you get your teen interested in art and painting? Here are some ideas.
1. Have Art Supplies Out and Ready
You don’t need a studio, just a corner of a room or even a drawer. Whatever it is, make a dedicated space in your home for your teen to create. Show them where everything is and what it is.
2. Make Art With Them
Lead by example and do it regularly. Even if your teen seems to be too cool for art projects, make some time to make art together. Even if it’s just you painting the first time, they’ll see what you’re doing. Give them time to come around. See if your teen is interested in an art party and invite their friends over for an art party and provide food and painting supplies.
3. Don’t Be Negative
Art requires an open minded environment to flourish. How you respond to your teens art matters. No matter what your teen’s art looks like, find something positive to day about it. Try statements like, “I really like what you’ve done with xyz.” If they ask for feedback about something they’re struggling with, offer suggestions, but do it in a way that is positive. And remember; this goes for your art too. When you and your teen make art together, avoid the temptation to criticize or put down your own work. If you’re struggling with a part of your art, try statements like, “I’m struggling with xyz. What would you do to make it more like xyz.”
4. Make and Explore Different Types of Art
Not everyone can or should paint like Rembrandt. Think of Piccaso. Think of Jackson Pollock. Think of the impressionists, expressionists, the modernists. Each has a very different look and that’s what makes it all wonderful. There are many styles of paintings. Some are made to look like real life, some are made to look like alternate versions of life, some are symbolic, and some are abstract. Google search individual artists and artistic movements and share your findings with your teen. Browse local bookstores and libraries and look at books about art. Remember, your art is yours. It can be any style you want.
5. Make Your Home a Personal Family Gallery
Find a good sized, visible wall (or walls) within your home where you want to display your family’s art. Tell your teen you want to display a painting of theirs and a painting of yours in the space. Be sure to include all members of the household. Ask them what they’d like to see in that space. Whenever they make new art, find a place in the home for it. If your teen is prolific enough, you may even cycle paintings out as they create them.
Art is an ongoing experience, and helps teens express themselves. The best art is a conversation between the artist and the audience, and this conversation happens entirely without words. Connecting your teen to art is an important part of being an influential adult or parent in their lives. Set the tone for how they engage with art. You can do it.
Jennifer L. Jacobson is an artist and communications professional. She is the Founder of Nimbus Haus; a new volunteer art program in Seattle that helps LGBTQ+ youth and youth in foster care connect with art and expression.
To learn more, visit www.nimbushaus.com