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What If Your Child Doesn’t Like to Do Art?

August 26, 2022
By Beth Herrild

I often hear comments from parents like “One of my kids loves art, the other one doesn’t,” “My kids are more into sports, not art”, or “My son just doesn’t like art.” If you’re one of those parents, read on! There are ways to encourage even the most reluctant young artists.

Broaden Your Definition of Art to Encourage Reluctant Young Artists

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Using Pipettes to Drop Paint on Folded Coffee Filters or Color Diffusing Paper (photo credit @ashleyselvarajah)

It’s possible that your child has a very narrow perception of what art is. For instance, he may only be thinking of drawing and painting. Art can be a whole myriad of different things. According to Britannica, art, also called (to distinguish it from other art forms) visual art, a visual object or experience consciously created through an expression of skill or imagination. The term art encompasses diverse media such as painting, sculpture, printmaking, drawing, decorative arts, photography, and installation.” And even this definition is too narrow! If your child doesn’t enjoy drawing or painting, try:

• collage

•something 3-dimensional like clay, assemblage, or paper mache´

•sun prints outside

•texture rubbings with oil pastels


•paint, but use unusual materials like string, rolling a marble in paint and then on your paper, dip Legos in paint, dropper or pipettes, create natural brushes from sticks and plants…

•creating mandalas outside by collecting natural materials like rocks, leaves, and feathers


Mandala From Natural Materials on Cardboard From a Frozen Pizza (photo credit @ashleyselvarajah)

Limit Supplies & Choose Interesting Supplies to Entice Reluctant Young Artists

I have found that it is often difficult to sit down with a child, lay out a bunch of art supplies and expect the child to fully engage unless he is one of those kids who naturally gravitates towards drawing and painting. Even my most creative child didn’t know what to do when I just set out art supplies. It was too daunting for him. So what can you do if you want to expose your kids to art and encourage creativity but they say they don’t like making art? Here are some tips:

• Designate an area in your home where you can regularly set out art invitations. For more in depth information about creating art invitations, read our blog post on that. These might be some unique art supplies that your child doesn’t usually come in contact with at school like liquid watercolors instead of the dry solid ones in the trays, some unique markers like the ones that have a brush on one end and a point on the other, or blow pens. The idea is that you show a technique or leave an example of a technique out with the supplies and then let kids have freedom from there. There are many good reasons to limit the amount of supplies and choices. Research shows that limiting choices actually leads to greater creativity as well as less overwhelm.
• Think outside of the box: instead of setting out paints or colored pencils and some paper, create a unique experience that your kids will be excited to try, like graffiti on your walls, (well, big pieces of butcher paper taped up on your walls.) Get a roll or some big sheets of newsprint or butcher paper. Both relatively easy to find and inexpensive. Tape several big sheets to a wall using painter’s tape to protect your wall. Make sure the sheets are really large so that kids have lots of room for creativity and a huge margin for error! The absolutely coolest art supplies to give your kids for this are blow-pens! They are markers that kids blow in. They create a wonderful airbrush/spray paint effect like street artists use, only without the expense and toxicity. Make sure the markers you purchase are washable just in case. They are really bright and fun alone and also work well with stencils. You don’t need to purchase a kit with stencils though, encourage your kids to make their own out of cardboard or found objects. You could show them some photos of Banksy’s work to inspire them.
• Or tell your kids about Michelangelo painting the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel. It is actually a myth that he laid on his back while he painted, he stood on scaffoldings and painted the ceiling above his head, but it is still be fun to tape pieces of paper underneath a coffee table or desk and let your kids lay on the floor underneath them and draw on the paper with oil pastels!

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Collaborate & Model A Growth Mentality

• Ask your child to do a collaborative piece of art with you. Start with a piece of blank white paper, even printer paper, and 2 black markers like fine point Sharpies. You start by drawing a squiggly line or random shape, (like not a square or rectangle, something more free form.) Then ask your child to add to the drawing using his/her imagination, without discussing out loud what it might look like. Then it is your turn again. Keep alternating until you both feel like the drawing is done. Since neither one of you has to do the entire drawing, (just little bits at a time,) it isn’t nearly as scary or intimidating to draw. Hopefully you will laugh and have a good time together as your silly drawing evolves. Here is a very short video showing this process.

•Ask your child to doodle on some post it notes so that you will have a fun reminder of her/him at work or in your room or bathroom at home. Use square post it notes in bright colors and bright markers. Working on a little 3″ x 3″ paper takes the pressure off when drawing. Also, referring to it as a doodle implies that it doesn’t have to be a drawing of something specific and recognizable but can just be fun & colorful.
•Print out some photographs in a 5 x 7 or 8 x 10 size or rip some advertisements out of magazines and invite your kids to draw on them!

If your child is a reluctant young artist, keep trying. Visual arts bring such great benefits to kids. Of course, if you subscribe to our boxes or become an Insider’s Club digital member, we’ll help you inspire even the most reluctant young artists! We carefully plan and curate our projects to offer a variety of projects and different mediums (supplies) to encourage kids with different interests and learning styles.

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Exploring Light & Shadows in Art (photo credit @ashleyselvarajah)