Tweenager Art: via Kristin Fitzgerrell

Via Diana Mercer
on Jun 3, 2010
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From special guest contributor, Boulder artist Kristin Fitzgerrell

I was beaming with pride this past Mother’s Day. All three of my children were part of the same art opening. Emma wrote poetry. Jack presented the cutest garbage fish on dry land, and Kate was commissioned to make some sweet scrap-paper dolls.

As an artist/mother, I am busy squeezing my own creative work into every spare sliver of time I can find, steal and sneak. Nothing could be more joyous for me then when my two professions overlap. Now that my children are becoming, well, BIG, the very best part is watching these three develop their own creative practices, narrow their focus and devote time and energy developing their own art.

Here are a few of my best hints to encourage your teens/tweens to get back to the creative exploration we saw occurring so naturally when they were four!! And what better time than summer to try these:

  1. Don’t suggest it: Just mysteriously leave things in obvious places: A postcard notice of a unique event that might pique their interest: a film festival, a fashion show, a concert. Happen to leave new box of colored pencils or a lump of fresh clay somewhere obvious (on their keyboard? 🙂 Even simply an art book from the library picturing some interesting or thought provoking new work to make them wonder (or laugh!)
  1. Do suggest it: A visit together to the art museum where they bring a friend and choose the lunch spot. A trip to a vintage car show. A class together where you both learn a new creative skill or learn to look at life through new and creative eyes. If you live in Boulder or Denver, how about a trip to the botanic gardens or First Friday evenings (every month) in Boulder/Denver galleries.
  1. Provide a dedicated space and tools/supplies: Provide basic art materials and suggest looking beyond an art supply store for inspiring materials. Your local resource yard is a great (and green!) place to get inspired for 3-d projects. Provide the stuff for artmaking the same way you provide food and shelter. Wood scraps, paint, wire, paper, cardboard, fabric. . . the list is of course endless. Create a place where your favorite artist can write, think, draw, sculpt and tinker uninterrupted. Creative practice needs a home.
  1. Support: Not approval that a particular piece of their artwork is good or worthy but rather constantly humming the theme (no words!) that creative pursuits are time well spent. Develop and nurture your own creative practice to model for your teen/tween the intrinsic benefits of incorporating creativity practices as a part of everyday family life and a crucial part of personal development.

If you live in or near Boulder, CO, Check out the above-mentioned show, Resurrections, at the Canyon Gallery in the Boulder Public Library, Boulder, CO through June 30. It is curated by Jennifer Heath, and features some very creative artistic work by local artists of all ages utilizing garbage/recycled materials. A great show for the whole family, sure to inspire some creative summertime exploration of the recycle bin (and beyond) at your house!!

About Kristin

Kristin Fitzgerrell is a Boulder artist, mom and creativity guru extraordinaire. Kristin went from making scrappy art (age 6) in Boulder, to designing not-so-scrappy book jackets (age 26) in Brooklyn, to making bigger scrappy art with better adhesives (age almost 46) in Boulder. View her incredible artwork at her website


About Diana Mercer

I've been delighting in and learning from children for almost 20 years as a teacher, and former owner of Clementine Studio: Art Space for Children. I love to watch a child's spirit emerge and develop through the process of art. I'm also a big fan of stilling my mind with yoga, meditation, and the art of mindfulness, cooking up a fresh, local and organic dinner from the Farmer's Market, making sweet music with my friends, and baking fancy birthday cakes.


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