Unleash Your Inner Artist

I am a big fan of activities that allow individuals to be artistic. Why? Because it is through those expressions of artistry that we experience productivity, entertainment, and cultural enrichment, and possibly even have the opportunity to impact other people in a positive way. But, more importantly, studies show that individuals who allow art to have a place in their lives may be healthier and happier than those who don’t. This is why I felt compelled to make a post encouraging parents to identify activities that will permit them to unleash their inner artist.

Do you regularly set aside time to be artistic? If you answered “yes” to this question, “well done!” I’d love to find out what you do and how you came to prioritize artistic expression in your life and I encourage you to share those activities with me in the comment section below this post. On the other hand, if you answered “no” to that question, I’d like to encourage you by saying “that’s okay!” We still have 10 more months of 2019 left to create new habits and set new goals for ourselves. And, it’s my hope that, among the list of suggestions I offer below, you’ll find something that will inspire you to let your artistic juices flow.

Visit an art museum.

According to the American Alliance of Museums‘s website, there are more than 900 institutions in the United States that are designated as art museums or art centers. This includes huge, well-known art museums, such as New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art; Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; The Art Institute of Chicago; and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. But, it also includes impressive university museums (e.g., Princeton University Art Museum) and notable regional art museums (e.g., Grand Rapids Art Museum). That represents a lot of fascinating art exhibits to view; countless lectures, classes and workshops to participate in; as well as many unique special events for artistic adults and children to enjoy. And, it likely means most people won’t have to go far to find a place that will enable them to weave art into their lives. Visit the Alliance’s website and use the “Find A Member Museum” search function to locate the art museum closest to your home and, if you have a vacation or work trip coming up, check to see if your destination has an art museum you could visit.

If a limited budget for recreational activities like visiting an art museum could possibly make visiting one of the larger ones challenging–especially if you plan on visiting with your entire family–call the museum and ask if it ever offers free admission to visitors. For example, the Art Institute of Chicago hosts Free Winter Weekdays during several weeks in January and February. It also offers free admission to Illinois educators (Pre-K through 12th grade) and active-duty military every day it’s open. Also keep in mind that University-based or regional art museums may have free admission every day. In addition, families enrolled in a government assistance program (e.g., LINK, WIC, etc.) can receive free general admission to many art museums like the Art Institute of Chicago thanks to it’s participation in the Museums for All program. Visit the website for the program and check to see if an art museum near you is a partner in that program.

Color in coloring books.

If you’re a parent, you’ve likely bought coloring books for your child or children. But, have you ever bought one for yourself? If not, this is probably the best time to do so since more and more retailers are now selling coloring books for grown ups. And, these aren’t your kids’ coloring books! The ones created for adults contain such intricate, detailed patterns that, once the page is colored, you may even want to frame it and place it on your desk or nightstand to serve as a daily reminder to set aside time on regular basis to be artistic.

If you want to check out a few coloring books before actually purchasing one, you’ll want to visit brick-and-mortar craft stores like Hobby Lobby or bookstores such as Barnes & Noble. (Some stores also sell white, patterned stickers, cards and other items that would make for a great gift for a parent who enjoys coloring.) However, if you’re a fan of online shopping, you could pick your book from among those sold on Target.com and Walmart.com. I also recently came across some on the Christian Book Distributors website. Featuring verses from select books of the bible (e.g., Psalms, Proverbs), these coloring books could serve as a creative outlet or time of worship for aspiring artists of all ages whether they color in them alone or share their pages and colored pencils of the book and colored with their spouse, children, siblings or friends, they also could be used to lead a group of individuals into a time of meditation and prayer.

Enroll in a class.

Every week, countless children are driven by their parents to studios and schools designed to help young people learn more about–and participate in–the performing and visual arts. However, based upon conversations I’ve had with other parents, the number of mom and dads who actually set aside time on a regular basis to be artistic is disappointingly low. I’m not currently doing that, but I plan on bringing either a dance class or some type of art class (or both) into my life this year. For example, I enjoyed being in a modern dance gym class during my sophomore, junior and senior years in high school instead of the regular gym classes. (That was far more enjoyable for me than playing basketball or volleyball or running laps!) I also studied hip hop for a short while after my husband and I got married thanks to the gift certificate to a dance studio that he gave me for my birthday one year. (Best gift ever!) Both types of dance helped me develop the strength, stamina, confidence and creativity that was required to get my body to do what my teacher asked me to do in a particular piece of choreography. And, although those classes only represent a small part of my life, they both helped me become the person I am today.

If you would like to take a dance class in ballet, modern, jazz, tap, contemporary, or some other type of dance–but don’t want to commit to an entire session at a studio or school–look for one that has a “drop-in” program. That way, you can participate as your schedule allows without being obligated to attend every week. If you don’t like to dance, seek out other types of classes, such as drawing or painting classes taught at craft stores. You also could audit–or take for credit–photography or music classes at a local college or university.

So, if you’re a mom or dad who hasn’t been intentional about fitting art into your life, I urge you to make doing so a priority. It doesn’t matter if you commit to checking out new art exhibits when they open at museums near you, take classes or workshops, or create your own artwork or projects in the comfort of your own home, just make it happen. I know you’ll benefit from it and, subsequently, your family will, too.

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