In the early years of my children’s education art was a no brainer. We crafted, painted, drew and molded. We put googly eyes on everything we could find and used our body weight in glitter. But as my eldest hit double figures, it became a bit trickier to fit art into our lives. We were past the tempera stage, but what comes next?
My son is full of imagination and energy, but does not relish time spent laboring over a still life drawing, or perfecting a complex technique. Yet we all still want art to be a regular part of our lives. Luckily we live in the digital age, an age of opportunity and discovery that is beyond anything my younger self could imagine. So I find myself more and more turning to digital tools to help him create and make without constraints.
I’d like to share a few of the tools we are exploring right now. There are of course more and this is just a starting place, but I hope this gets you started on your digital art journey!
Art for Kids Hub: This is a more ‘traditional’ resource in that it still involves the use of paper and pencil! This online portal is full of video tutorials guiding kids step-by-step through the process. There are a huge variety of videos from drawing Mine craft characters to spooky Halloween Mummies. It may not be fine art, but it is fun, lively and encourages kids to see drawing as a series of steps rather than an overwhelming whole. My son loves these tutorials and the drawings he makes are great!
Art Authority App: This app is phenomenal value and provides access to thousands of art works and artists. You can use it as a traditional gallery, browsing artists and discussing their work, or you can use it to supplement other areas of study exploring the art of a given time period. I love to explore a variety of artists with my boys and challenge them to tell me which one is ‘better’. Of course they conclude that all the different types of art have value, helping them see their own work with a more charitable eye too. I think there is great value in simply browsing and asking the question “What do you like?” I’ve provided a printable Prompt sheet to give you some ideas about navigating art history with your child.
Paper 53: This app is a digital sketchbook that provides access to all sorts of materials that would certainly not be usually portable! You can paint, draw, create large sweeps of color or fine detailed lines. I love the fact that this app provides a fine line option in a large range of colors, something we couldn’t afford to provide day to day.
The open-ended nature of this app allows for exploration with no consequence, no paper wasted, no worries about materials. While a stylus isn’t necessary, we do find it provides a lot more precision and detail. It also helps develop the sense of making something ‘real’. We’ve only scratched the surface of what this app can do, but I’m really looking forward to seeing the discoveries we make.
MoMA Art Lab app: To me this is the perfect example of what the digital world can offer. A world famous art museum invites you in to explore not only famous art pieces, but to make and develop your own works of art. Though simple enough to be used by young children, there is plenty of scope to develop it for older children too.
Sketchpad Explorer – Similar to Paper 53, this app is a digital sketchbook. The app is intended for exploring geometry, but we focus on using the ‘textures’, patterning that gives a multi media feel. By alternating layers and colors pictures emerge, giving the work dimension. These textures mimic the kind of art techniques used in 3D art and encourage a move away from seeing ‘line’ as king. I love the textured but abstract work that evolved out of this app, a deceptively simple but effective process.
Once you start exploring the possibilities with digital art tools you’ll soon be hooked. You can make art at home or on the go, truly making art an experience you can have anywhere at any time.