Art Smart: Your Own Summer Art Studio

By Annie Ballin

Ahh…the lazy days of summer shouldn’t equate to lazy children! During the summer kids have the time to use their imaginations freely. Don’t let television dominate their waking hours, and scrap the idea of endless hours with Nintendos or Xboxes. Instead, give up a little space for a summer art studio. During the summer, part of the garage is perfect. No garage? Transform the mudroom or a corner of the basement into your child’s very own “art studio.” By sacrificing a space for your car or reorganizing your house a bit, you will give your kids a gift they will never forget.

STEP ONE: Materials

Stock the area with newspaper, papers (copy, cardstock, newsprint, poster board, etc.), crayons, markers, glue, watercolor and tempera paints, chalk, pastel sticks, brushes, pencils, pens, scissors, magazines, collage materials, paper towels, tissues, string, twine, yarn, Q-tips, tape (masking, scotch, electrical), paper towel and toilet paper tubes, boxes, and other interesting recyclable materials (rocks, pebbles, twigs, pine cones and scraps of wood)

STEP TWO: Set Up
  1. Decide on a space. Make sure you are willing to give up the space for more than a day. If you are using the garage and your kids are old enough to be unsupervised, stash all dangerous tools, poisons and pesticides in an appropriately safe area.
  2. Line the floor with a tarp or heavy-duty sheet plastic (if necessary), taping the edges down for stability.
  3. If you have a large amount of space, set up “art stations” using tables and easels. If your space is limited, organize your materials under a table work area.
STEP THREE: Creating Art
  1. Keep in mind this is the kid’s time to image and create without strict lessons.
  2. Use this area to connect and create with your kids.
  3. If you or your kids need a little inspiration, go to the library or bookstore to find books with great craft ideas. Pick a project to try.
  4. Encourage all work and praise even the silliest of creations.
  5. Remind the artist to sign their work and carefully save their pieces.
STEP FOUR: The Show
  1. Throw an art opening! Pick a day and time and call or email an invitation to other neighbors and friends.
  2. Clean up the studio.
  3. Create a display card for each piece on an index card. Include name and title.
  4. Thoughtfully display the children’s artwork
  5. Have the kids make a sign announcing the show.
  6. Serve refreshments and encourage the kids to talk with people about their creations.
Parent Tips
  • Your art studio can be set up for a weekend, a week or the entire summer.
  • Expand or simplify supplies as needed.
  • Worktables can be made out of plywood and sawhorses or other makeshift materials.
  • An outdoor show is fun. Hang string between trees and use clothespins to display artwork.
  • The art studio is a great way to host a birthday party.
  • Set ground rules for material use and care. Remind the kids to “clean up as you mess up!” They may even kid you about this mantra; just ask my mom!