Jean Van’t Hul recently launched the revised edition of The Artful Parent and I thought it was the perfect opportunity to look back at how our family’s creative journey has played out since I read the first edition of her marvelous book in 2013.
I received a copy of this book for this review but all opinions are my own.
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Our family’s creative journey
Seven years ago I made a decision that changed my life entirely. I had come to a career and life crossroads where I was offered the chance to take over the family architecture firm when my father retired. Despite spending my career up to that point as a designer and architect I was ambivalent about the prospect of taking over the firm. The fact was that I was now a mom of two children with a third on the way and I didn’t want to spend all my days away from my family immersed in architecture.
I had been hobby blogging for a couple of years and realized that I was truly excited about bringing creativity into my home life. After a lot of hand wringing I made the decision to turn down taking over the firm and pursue blogging about creative projects with my kids for a living. I could stay at home with my kids, scratch my Type-A work itch, and hopefully inspire my kids to be creative all at the same time. Luckily my family was extremely supportive in this decision.
I knew it was going to be a leap of faith to turn my hobby into a job and as many of us do when we discover our true passions, there are folks we look up to when we shift life goals. One of the people who gave me the confidence to make the changes I wanted was Jean Van’t Hul of The Artful Parent blog.
My go-to resource
The Artful Parent was my go-to blog for artsy ideas and inspiration and the place I turned to when I needed a reminder that focusing your life on family creativity was important and valuable. When the first edition of The Artful Parent book came out I gobbled it up. I loved the encouragement it offered families like mine to make time for art and creativity in our home as well as the simple and easy ideas for what creative projects to try. It was a go-to book in my creative library. In fact over the years we have done a ton of the projects from this book and Jean’s blog!
Below is just a fraction of the ideas we’ve tried including bubble prints, homemade play dough, printmaking, blow art, spin art, scratch art, glue batik, and our much loved art forts.
Fast forward to 2019…
So, so much has changed for me in recent years and I was super curious whether the updated version of The Artful Parent would be as helpful to me now as it was before. As I picked it up and read it this go around I was struck by the fact that the book is still incredibly relevant and helpful to me but in new ways.
Art for a wider audience
The first time I read The Artful Parent I was primarily interested in the family creativity chapters and how to encourage creative exploration at home. As my children started growing up and getting involved in more outside activities, I decided it was time for me to bring my love of creativity to a wider audience and I began my own summer camp and afterschool program at our local elementary school. Who gave me the confidence to do this? Amongst family and friends, Jean did.
Her book talks about not only bringing art into your home but how to extend that exploration to your wider community. She has a whole chapter on starting your own art play group and how to facilitate group art projects. Her encouragement and sentiment that you don’t have to be a trained teacher in order to inspire kids, you just need a love of creativity and the desire and patience to share that with others, helped propel my teaching pipe dream into reality. This time around I devoured the chapter on art groups and collaborative art ideas.
Revisiting art spaces at home
Another section I adored reading now is the section on how to set-up a creative space in your home. Our home has seen many transformations as my kids get older and I have been wrestling with how to continue to dedicate space for creative projects. I loved revisiting the section of the book detailing the elements of a successful creative home space and the reminder to keep this place in our home sacred.
Your best cheerleader
Lastly I remembered why I fell in love with this book the first time, it offers so much positive encouragement to creative families. Jean is the master at reminding you that your dream of bringing art into your family life is possible and, frankly, not hard.
As society has grown more and more tied to technology I know many parents struggle with how to balance screen time with play and creativity. This book will walk you through scenarios of how to incorporate creative time into your daily routine so that you don’t have to rely on screen time to get things done.
Even though my kids enjoy their iPad time I still find them pulling out paper and cardboard, glue, tape and markers all on their own to create things when inspiration hits. And I know that the creative family foundation we set-up years ago in our home inspired by The Artful Parent is the reason why.
So no matter where you are in your family’s creative journey The Artful Parent is a must-have resource. You CAN be the artful parent you want to be, you CAN teach kids art if you so desire, and you CAN raise thoughtful kids who love creative projects. You’ve totally got this!