By Raychel Stewart
Signal Staff Writer
As summer ramps up and the mercury continues to rise, art activities can be a great way to keep cool, fill idle time and offer several benefits for families and growing children.
Art programs and activities are usually thought of as projects that involve a paintbrush and canvas, but art projects can go beyond the typical watercolor paints to incorporate other artforms, such as sculpting and dancing.
“Everyone needs a little art in their lives,” said Sheri Carlson, education chair at ARTree Community Arts Center in Newhall. “Both children and adults need it. It’s important to tap into your creative side.”
Participating in art projects as a family can offer growing children several skills that can be practiced throughout school and into adulthood, Carlson said. Adding that the more children practice creativity, the better they will get.
When children participate in open-ended art projects, it allows them to develop critical thinking skills since they are being challenged to complete a task with their own freewill.
“When you give kids an open-ended project, they start to think about how things work, and how they can make things work to accomplish and complete the project. Carlson said. “If a child is doing a project which involves a tree, then they’ll ask themselves questions about the tree, what animals live in the tree and things like that. It’s not just drawing a picture — it’s getting the kids to think about how everything works.”
Carlson said getting children involved with art projects at a young age also helps develop hand-eye coordination since tools such as pencils, paintbrushes and scissors are used, and basic knowledge of color mixing is another skill that can be learned from participating in art projects.
Art projects can create confidence in children, said Kathy Barbro, founder of ArtProjectsForKids.org, on her website. She added if children are producing material they are happy with, it can be an encouragement to continue practicing.
Barbro added on her website that practicing drawing allows children to develop an understanding of patterns, symmetry and shapes, which will benefit them in a classroom setting.
“I believe that if you help children take the mystery out of drawing during their formative years, you can instill the idea that it’s another skill that they or anyone else can improve,” Barbro wrote on her website. “And whether that interest carries them into future careers or just remains a hobby, both options are just as valuable and just as rewarding.”
Getting the family involved with art from home
Aside from the typical painting projects that are usually associate with arts and craft activities, many every-day household items can be transformed into art projects the whole family can participate in.
What Carlson called “found objects,” families can take objects which would otherwise be thrown away, such as boxes or sewing items, and turn them into an art project.
“You take one thing that’s otherwise looked at as useless and turn it into something else,” Carlson said. “You can take a box and make a robot out of it, and use old clothes buttons for eyes. These projects really enhance kid’s understanding of three-dimensional art that goes beyond the flat paint on a canvas.”
Baking is another way to be creative at home that isn’t usually associated with art activities. Families can bake their favorite desserts, such as cookies, cakes or cupcakes, and top them off with frosting, candy or sprinkle decorations.
Art projects offered in the community
ARTee Community Art Center offers a wide range of art classes, both paid and free, for residents in the Santa Clarita Valley.
Each month, a class is highlighted and free for anyone to attend with a reservation made in advance.
“Next month, we’re making sculptures out of aluminum foil,” Carlson said. “Something that can be found at home and doesn’t require someone to go out and buy other art supplies.”
Another free class offered by ARTree involves making picture collages by gluing together random shapes. The center offers a wide variety of art classes in person and online for people of all ages, including drawing classes focused on depicting people and multimedia art classes involving clay and printmaking.
The Los Angeles County Department of Parks and Recreation also offers several community activities, including ones involving art and crafts throughout the summer season.
“We’ve partnered with some of the best instructors in Los Angeles to bring the community hundreds of classes for all ages, levels and budgets,” said Janine Der Bogosian. “Offerings include arts and culture courses, performing arts, music, dance and much more.”
With a majority of classes being virtual for the time being, people can sign up classes in art, baking, dance and home decorating which all focus on the creativity of an individual.
“Don’t be intimidated,” Carlson said. “Everyone is creative and everyone can make art. It’s just all about getting started and not being intimidated if a mess is made. Art is messy, that’s just a part of the creative process. It shouldn’t stop being from practicing their creativity because messes can be cleaned up.”
For a list of classes offered by the Los Angeles County Department of Parks and Recreation, visit https://bit.ly/3wuiHjs, or ARTree at https://bit.ly/35oDjO7.