Lately, for art class, I’ve been trying to think of what I might want my child to come home with and a family portrait would be top of my list. It’s so much fun to see a kid’s perspective through their art, especially when it comes to family. I’ve been begging my almost 4 year old to do a family portrait but whenever I ask her to make me something specific her rebellious side comes out and she pretty much will draw everything but what I asked. Grrr…I’ll get her though. In the meantime, here’s how you can try family portraits with your kids. Hopefully they are a bit more agreeable than mine can be.
First, talk about the members of your family. You can ask questions like, How many people live in your house? Do you have any pets? Would you like to include your pets in your family portrait? What details might you include in your drawing? What details are important for the face? Do heads just hang out in space? What body parts are important to include?
Once your child has a framework for their family, give them a black pastel and let them draw their ideas on the watercolor paper. I did this with 3-5 year olds and everyone was able to get a representation of some sort on the paper. For me, it’s really important to accept whatever shapes your child is able to create and not try to make them different. You will look back on these portraits and love the random potato looking shapes with the stick legs. Embrace them.
It’s time to add color to your family portrait. I like to give two cups of water and a paper towel when using water colors. One is the dirty bath and one is the clean bath and the paper towel can be used to check the brush to see if it’s clean.
Kids can take as much time as they need to paint in their family portraits. When I see everyone concentrating I like to say things like “wow, I notice you’re all really taking time to add important color and detail to your painting.” or “I really like the way you’re taking your time with your art and not rushing. That tells me you really care about your work.” Before we start painting I often ask the kids if they think this is something they do extra fast or something they take their time on. Sometimes I even pretend to be a kid, rushing through my art and get the kids to say “noooo, that’s too fast.” It’s a fun way of setting the tone for working slowly and carefully.
When art class was over we invited all the moms over to our art table to hear about each portrait. The portraits were met with lots of oohs and ahhs and even some sweet tears. Yay. As a teacher, I love when that happens. Art can be so precious and moving. I know so many of these portraits are now in a frame for the whole family to enjoy. I will eventually have one too. Mark my words : )
If your child makes a family portrait, please hashtag #letthempaint on instagram. I’d love to see it! Thanks for reading along everyone. xo Meri