Making Art With Children {Letting Them Lead}

My children have been surrounded by art supplies, art books, art on the walls and art museums their whole lives.

Sometimes what they really need is just the freedom to create.

When I put supplies out for my kids and then I walk away to do my own thing I feel that my kids rush through the process instead of really taking their time.

The best thing for me to learn as a mother when it comes to art is to help them practice and really look at what they are wanting to do.

When I sit down with them or talk with them while they create I feel like they are more in tuned to what they are doing.

My hands do not touch their creations.

My ideas do not touch their creations.

It is my job to supply the mediums, explore the museums, talk about works of art they love and don’t love, point out techniques and some suggestions for mediums and let them figure the rest out.

No right.

No wrong.

No suggestions unless they ask for help.

No picking up the brush and showing them how on their work. If they ask for technique help I show them on a separate piece of paper or canvas.

When they get frustrated I am honest about how sometimes I get frustrated and wish my art was at a different place and how we all just have to keep practicing.

I show off their work and display it proudly and we do it all again.

Last week was week one of Studying Under The Masters {portraits and self-portraits} and I studied under the work of Vincent Van Gogh.

Ben had such a fun week playing with paperclay and creating Van Gogh and The Postman.

We looked through different works of Van Gogh and he decided to practice using Starry Night.

When he thought he was done I encouraged him to put it aside for a day and look at it the next morning to see if he saw anything else he wanted to add.

He ended up working on it a few more times and really looking at his piece and Starry Night.

He said, “Mom, my painting doesn’t look just like Starry Night but I love it so much!”.

He was so proud of his sculptures and loved, loved, loved painting them while he looked at the originals for color ideas.

We have already dived into week two with Teresa McFayden studying under the works of Pablo Picasso.

I can’t wait to show you what creations come out of Picasso as our inspiration.


Vincent Van Gogh: Portrait of an Artist

Usborne The Children’s Book of Art

Vincent’s Colors

Van Gogh: Art Activity Pack

Van Gogh: Getting To Know The World’s Greatest Artists

Vincent Van Gogh: Sunflowers and Swirly Stars

Katie and the Starry Night


You can still register for Studying Under The Masters {portraits and self-portraits}.

This 6 week online art course is $62 and the videos are available for 2 years.

To register please click HERE.

For people that are not already in the site here are directions:

To take a class on Jeanne Oliver’s creative network please follow these instructions:

1. Become a member of (this is free)

2. Once your membership is approved you can watch free art videos, the popular free interview series Creativity Takes Courage and even pay for more in depth courses.

3. Want to take an online course?  We currently offering 30 courses and free videos and you can find them all along the left hand side of the main page under “Courses”.  If you do not see the course you are looking for please click the “View all” at the bottom of the list.

4. Click on the course you are interested in, click the +join in the upper right hand corner, pay and you will be instantly in the course.

5. If you have ANY questions please email

You can also pay using the Paypal button below…


Registration has just opened for Lifebook 2015!

You can join 24 other artists and me for all of 2015 for a year a creative journaling, connection, encouragement, and creativity!

Come on over and check out all of the details and get ready for a creative 2015!

I hope to see you in class!

If you sign up using the links on my blog I will receive a portion of your registration fee.

If you are signing up through me I would just love to say thank you!

I can’t wait to see you in class and creative with you during my week in Lifebook 2015.

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  1. Teresa Swanson

    This is wonderful! My kids too, growing up, never a dull moment for them. My boys even learned how to crochet and sew! They loved working with clay and were always drawing or writing….and they were also homeschooled. I love it what you are doing for your family!

  2. Kolein

    This is a wonderful post!!! I adore it! It resonates with us and our style of living. While I believe everyone is certainly creative not everyone gets a space to express that creativity. If we didn’t here I’d probably cry my heart out. My husband is a musician. He’s also part of the mix here encouraging our boys to create and follow through and guide them. I do all the other creative gigs around here. As a home schooling Montessori teacher, since the boys were little they were always free to create. Friends would come over and be “amazed” that I was “letting” them use playdoh or clay at the DR table. Or a small easel would be propped up with paints and brushes strewn about. I’d laugh because this is how it was and is in our home. I didn’t think it was any different or more special than anything else. “Didn’t the mess bother me?” I’d be asked. I’d laugh and say, “What mess?” Of course I knew what my friends meant. But that creativity is so gorgeous all strewn about the house. Some evenings when the boys are in bed I’ll be walking through the house picking up. I still get tears in my eyes when I see their creative process laying around – whether it’s scissors, tape and papers or painted rocks or their instruments. It makes my heart sing!

    Thank you for your list of gentle reminders. I could always use that advice for my children as well as myself.

  3. Karen

    Your list of reminders for making art is perfect. I was so lucky as a kid to have my artist grandmother provide us grandchildren with all types of materials, inspiration, and visits to galleries, shows, etc. But most importantly, she always took a step back and let us do it our way. I remember sometimes wanting her to tell us exactly what to do, but she wouldn’t budge! My children go to public schools here (mandatory) and since pre-school they have been taught to paint and craft in very exact terms. I see the positive side of mastering techniques etc, but at home I’ve set up many opportunities for them to be free and “unlearn”. It was easy when they were small but the older they’ve become, the harder it is. My daughter is majoring in art now (you have to choose a major in high school) but sometimes I feel it’s taking the passion out of art for her. I am determined to keep that creative channel open for her and my sons!
    I am really enjoying your masters class, have mentioned it on my blog 🙂 You have re-awakened my desire to move beyond crafting and remember my latent art history background and I am very grateful for that, Jeanne.

  4. Lana

    Ben…I Like your version Better too!!!! Ask your mama to make a few prints of that for her shop…I would love to have two or three for my little Grandbabies’ rooms.

    I love the freedom to express it his way…and rightfully taught…there aren’t any mistakes in art…

  5. smatchley


    Jeanne, I love this post. I mean, I lovelovelove it. I also see this as yet another direction for you to take with your beautiful Creative Community – however many or few that sign up, I think one of your LOVELY “niches” is to take whole book learning with an art focus and do mini courses for kids. Seriously, my friend…I have no words for how much I love this.

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