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Kids LOVE art. All kids love to draw and paint and generally mess around with mixed media.

They are fascinated with multisensory materials such as playdough – and not just the little kids!

They don’t have the same constraints as us.

When children are full engaged in art they are in another space. I watch the children at my centre totally lose themselves when drawing and painting. They reach that lovely flow state that Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi has studied and written about so lucidly.

The intense absorption we experience in the flow state leads to positive emotions and a generally happier state.

Becoming totally absorbed is good for us and that utter absorption can be seen with art- both when engaged and also when letting yourself disappear into a painting!

We have often used famous paintings as a stimulus for creative writing. We encourage children to imagine they are actually IN the print we are studying and write from that perspective.

Quite often the outcome is not that important to them but the process really is.

Regular trips to art galleries encourage so many skills to develop.

A trip to an art gallery is often a trip into history and children can learn a lot about the world, other cultures and about history.

Children learn to concentrate, get lost in wonder and dreaming and start to form their own preferences.

They learn to respect these public spaces and learn how to interact with the other viewers.

There are always guides and gallery staff to answer their many questions!

Young children all view themselves as potential artists so are not overwhelmed by the great masters.

The trick is to plan the visit and never stay over an hour or 2 at the most.

It is far better for children to really stare, feel, wonder and take their time than to race around the gallery with you and the iPhone, not really looking. The images clicked on the phone cannot compare with the actual art. To really appreciate the art takes concentrated looking and cannot be done with a camera.

The artist and the viewer enter into a special relationship and the viewer might become really engaged (or not, ) generate new ideas, questions- who knows! That is part of the mystery of art! We don’t know where it will lead us!

Model really looking into a picture and letting the picture talk to you. Show them this is a slow, deep process that needs intense concentration and a letting go of distractions.

It is ALWAYS a good idea to take a sketchbook for each child with some coloured pencils. Children love to copy art and that is a wonderful way to learn about lines, form, perspective and so on.

Remember that children don’t always appreciate the same art as you do. Most galleries have comprehensive websites so you can show your children some of the art they will be seeing. Let them have some choices.

Most galleries have children’s areas and these are usually very well planned but DO take them with you to enjoy and learn to appreciate the amazing art we can generally enjoy for free!

As the sign in my centre in Perth says, ” ART MAKES US SMART!”


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