I wasn’t always an artful parent. I loved art as a kid but as I got older and into my early 20’s I moved further away from crafts and art making. When I got married to my amazing partner, Evan Cherry, and we had two girls back to back soon after, something shifted. Motherhood was so challenging I had to find a way to feel like myself within the chaos of two crying babies at home. That’s when I got Jean Van’t Hul’s book, The Artful Parent and this is the story of How I became an Artful Parent.
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As a new mom, I used to keep the first edition of The Artful Parent next to my bed and read it any chance I could. I’d grab a few minutes here and a few minutes there. I had about a year of blogging under my belt that had kicked into high gear when my girls were born. I started doing fun sensory activities at home in our backyard and I noticed I had ignited something within me that was very ready to come alive. Jean’s world of making and creating with kids totally drew me in. I found her book and her blog, The Artful Parent to be a constant source of inspiration.
I soaked up every activity and idea, remembering all the things I used to do as a kid in art class or camp and I was filled with new ideas of activities to try with my girls. Every page of The Artful Parent inspired me more and more. And then I got to chapter 15.
Chapter 15, is called Art for Playdates, Parties and Groups. Jean explains that “By providing a setting where children create art side by side, yo’reu giving them an example of their peers happily engaged with art materials and activities. Not only does it encourage them to do the same, but it also shows them that those around them value art.” Ok, I get that. We value art in our house. I thought, this is sounding good. The chapter continues…”How to start a children’s art group…” Wait, you mean I can start a group and not be so lonely as a new mom and kids can come over and we can all hang together and play? Uhhh, yes please.
But wait, there was one more sentence that really caught my attention. “You can set it up as a class with the idea of being paid for both your time and supplies (especially if you are confident in your level of experience in doing art with children.) Hold the phone. You mean I can make rainbow spaghetti and paint water balloons and people will pay me? Now you have my attention. I had been a k-2 teacher for years. I felt confident with kids and the rush of creating was back full force.
I am many things, a mom, a partner, a teacher, an artist, but perhaps at the top of that list, I am an entrepreneur. I have a passion to grow something from nothing running through my veins. I’ve always been this way and I’m pretty sure I always will. So, the next Friday morning I invited all my friends with babies and toddlers over and I made 10 lbs of rainbow spaghetti and let them slip and slide threw all that spaghetti until they were exhausted and ready for their very long nap. (The pic below is Didi at 6 months or so. I think she ate a lb of spaghetti that day too. ps I definitely went overboard with the amount and wouldn’t recommend this much now but it was pretty epic to say the least.)
At the end of “play group” I asked my friends, do you think other moms would like this? Do you think they would pay for an experience like this? And sure enough every hand went up with a resounding YES!
I’d be selling Jean and her book short if I didn’t mention all the other amazing ideas in there. There is a reason a revised copy of the book was just released. Jean has been practicing the magic of process art for years and years. Her ideas and approach are simple, manageable and totally relatable. Nothing feels too overwhelming or contrived. She keeps it real and you can tell in the happy faces throughout the book, she’s sharing something wonderful.
This is one of the Artful Parent pics that went straight to my heart so many years ago and Jean talks about activities and collaborative murals like this in her book.
I highly recommend Jean’s book, The Artful Parent. It is a great resource, gift and bedside inspiration. Trust me, I should know. Thank you Jean for being such an inspiration and for being a pioneer in this industry. I am grateful to call you a friend and your influence has lead to a whole lot of joy around here!
Thanks for reading along! xo, Meri