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It’s back! Children’s Art Week is here to inspire and help children and young people to take part in practical activities with artists and art educators. The week is organised and run by Engage - the National Association for Gallery Education, although up and down the country, everyone is encouraged to organise their own artistic and creative activities, support local art galleries and generally wonder at the art around them. It is supported by the Arts Council England and other national arts organisations around the UK.

This year, the week runs from June 29 to July 19 – so not one, but three weeks in total, so plenty of time to get your creative juices flowing and participate in some fantastic artistic endeavours.

In recent years, Engage have set themes such as:

  • The natural world
  • Connecting across the generations
  • Literacy and creative writing

However, in 2022, Engage is focusing on the health and well-being impact offered by artists and galleries and the positive effect on people’s general health and well-being that getting involved in, and/or appreciating the visual arts can have. Having been in lockdown in the last 2 years, many of us took up creative pursuits such as baking, gardening or art, so this is a great time to showcase some of your work. And although it’s called Children’s Art Week, there’s no reason on earth why you shouldn’t involve all ages in your creative plans.

Engage would also like everyone to share their work by email or on their social media channels which you can find on the Engage website here.

Who can get involved?

The short answer to this is anyone! Typically, it is schools, galleries, museums and community groups who take part in the week by putting together events and experiences for children and families, although there is no limit to anything and age is not a barrier either. If you are an artist, why not share your wealth of experience with the younger generation, and everyone will benefit.

What can you do?

If you can think of something creative, informative or inspiring in the visual arts field, then you can do it. Generally, there are 3 main ways that people can get involved in the arts, by either:

  • Creating art
  • Learning about art, or
  • Appreciating art

We’ve listed some different ideas below for getting involved in all three.

Creating art

This is where you let your children, staff, families and friends unleash their creative side and get involved in practically making some visual art. You can do it inside, on the walls of your setting, outside on the pavement, in the park or at the beach, and probably a host of places in between too.

Obviously, there are hundreds of things you could draw or paint in your setting and thousands of arts and crafts sites on the internet such as https://www.tate.org.uk/kids/make to help with other ideas too, but why not try to do something different this year? Think about the different strands there are of visual arts such as:

  • Painting and drawing
  • Sculpture and modelling
  • Printing (block printing, screen printing and yes, of course, potato- and hand-printing count too!)
  • Film and video
  • Textiles
  • Fashion, costume design and masks

Now think about different media you could use such as:

  • Paints (acrylic, enamel, watercolour, oil)
  • Crayons and pastels
  • Charcoal
  • Pencil, pens, gel pens
  • Textiles, wool and ribbons
  • Wild art materials such as leaves/twigs/stones
  • Paper and card e.g. origami
  • Collage or mixed media
  • Decoupage
  • Photography
  • Digital art
  • Recycled materials and upcycling furniture
  • Face paints

Make sure you use things that are safe for children and wear protective clothing, but experimenting with new ideas is exciting and the children will love it.

Learning about art

This is about expanding your knowledge of art and art techniques. You could listen to a lecture or watch a programme about your favourite artist or a new art discovery.

You could invest in learning or teaching your children a new skill such as knitting, jewellery-making, embroidery or silk-screen printing? How about sculpting or making a cardboard box Totem pole? And it doesn’t have to be expensive. You could use recycled bottle tops, paint them different colours and thread them on string or ribbon to make necklaces or bracelets.

If you’d like to know more about art, https://artincontext.org/ is a wonderful place to start although a little more grown up.

Another idea for learning about art is to invite a local artist into your setting to discuss their work and ask them to share their story with your children.

Appreciating art

Appreciating art is all about really noticing the art around you, recognising its beauty and creativity and discussing it with others. When was the last time you visited a gallery or a museum as a setting, and really looked at the artworks and objects in there? This is also a good way to help children’s vocabulary because you can show them pictures and images of famous art works and teach them words related to colours, textures, emotions and feelings to, showing children a picture of the Mona Lisa and asking them whether they think she looks happy or sad for example, will give you some interesting responses, whilst building cultural capital as well.

Appreciating art also means not only looking at new (or new to you) artwork and artists, but also considering the art in everyday things. For example, have you ever considered the map of the London Tube network a piece of art? Maybe not, but if you visit the London Transport Museum website or building, and look at the many different designs of maps they have there, you might change your opinion about this iconic but everyday item.

Or consider the design ideas that go into designing our food and packaging labels. Art is everywhere and we are surrounded by visual images that have been created by traditional artists, designers and graphic artists every time we get on the bus, open a magazine or browse the shelves of our local shop. Encourage the children to really ‘open their eyes’ and appreciate the rich culture that surrounds them.

If you want some more ideas there is a good toolkit here from Somerset Artworks.

And of course, we’d love to see your final pieces so remember to send us your images and stories to hello@parenta.com

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