This morning after finishing her school work my 5-year-old daughter said to me, "Can we do an art lesson?"
Of course I said yes. She wasn't asking permission to do art, she was asking to spend time with me. She knows she can do art whenever she wants. It was a bid for attention, and I didn't let her down.
"But I have teens!" You say, "It's entirely different." Is it? Really? I was a teen, not so long ago, I'm still young enough to remember. You know the saying, "I will always be your mother." It runs the other way too. Your teen still wants to spend time with you.
But there is a difference between a five-year-old and a teen... one will ask and the other won't. When I was a teen I kept busy. I had school, work, sports, I liked to read and play computer games, but I also spent a great deal of time with my parents.
"Crystal, I'm going to the store want to come....We're going camping this weekend... Want to come with me to the car show... I'm learning to fence, want to come... Want to go for a walk???" Want to...
Generally I wasn't the one asking. If my parents didn't ask to spend time with me I probably would have spent my teen years reading in my room. If you're wondering, I am extremely close with both my parents.
How does this relate to art?
This is about relationships, art is a quiet easy way to build relationships. When you sit down to paint or draw with your teen you are sharing the joy of the experience. Art is relaxing, calming and quiet. With art there are no uncomfortable gaps in conversation, just moments of quiet concentration.
Imagine with me for a moment:
You sit at the table across from your teen. In the center you've placed a flower, two spoons and an action figure. A box of colored pencils spills across the table. Your teen smiles at you and begins to sketch the flower. You say, "I think I'll start with the spoon it looks easier." She chuckles. You fall into a quiet concentration. Ten minutes later you lean back for a break, "How's it going?" You ask. She lifts up her page to show you, "I think I messed up a bit..." "Oh, it doesn't look that bad. Look at mine." Your teen laughs, "Oh yours isn't that bad either." As you go back to drawing you ask, "So, how was the sleepover?" "Well...."
If your teen is artistic it may be the best way to spend time with them. Think about it this way: Why do women want their husbands to go shopping with them? By spending time doing art with your artistic teen you're taking a real interest in something that matters to them. You may be the worst artist in the world, but it hardly matters, because you've already won in their eyes by trying.
Really if you ask, your teen will agree to do things with you they are only vaguely interested in. For example when I was a teen I went grocery shopping, visited my grandfather in the country and went to antique car shows. Teens want to spend time with you, but they generally won't ask, so it's up to you. So, while you're asking them to come along to the grocery store make a plan to do art together too!