There are many benefits of the arts for kids, and there’s a variety in those benefits depending on whether viewing or creating art. Some people are more passionate about experiencing the artwork than making it, and vice-versa. There’s no wrong way to approach this, but understanding how interconnected making and experiencing can be is helpful. We’ll explore both below.
Taking your kids to an Orange County art gallery or artist’s studio is a great way to show them there’s a world much different than superhero movies or sporting events–and it’s a great way to get kids used to thinking about art as being closely intertwined with both.
After all, who designs the logos for the team jersey or creates the storyboards for the next Batman epic? Artists, that’s who.
Showing kids how to find the art in places they don’t normally look for it (galleries, museums, etc.) is a way to open their minds to the idea that art is everywhere and it’s not just for a select few who went to art college.
Getting the most benefit out of the arts for kids means picking your battles depending on age, interest, and sometimes even the time of year. Younger kids may be more open to visiting a gallery or museum later in the summer after other activities have gotten old, while older students might be open to visiting any time.
But the real issue for some is the artwork itself, in terms of being age-appropriate and kid-friendly. You may have to “curate” some of your selections ahead of time in terms of where to go and what to see. Why?
Some artists are definitely NOT kid-friendly. A Damien Hirst exhibition is likely to leave younger kids confused or even a bit grossed-out; Hirst became infamous for installation art pieces like a bisected shark and other far more adult-oriented work.
When you find a new artist doing a show near you, it’s a good idea to look up their online reputation for being adult-themed. Some think of Jeff Koons’ very NSFW artwork based on the former adult film star Cicciolina and double down on their online research before inviting the kids.
An installation artist named Danien Buren went the opposite direction for his own show titled Like Child’s Play, which transformed a museum into a sort of cityscape that looks like children’s toys and definitely meant to be family-friendly. You can take a page from Buren’s idea book here and search for “kid-friendly art shows” or “installation art for kids in Orange County”.
For some, the easiest way to begin is to buy some art and install it at home for the family to enjoy. Making this a habit is a good idea if you want to encourage interest at home and the good news is that there are plenty of emerging artists you can purchase from who are not charging collector prices.
You can get good, interesting work for less by supporting your local arts community. You do NOT have to get a second mortgage to buy art for your home!
If you want to get your family more into appreciating the arts, it helps to learn what kinds of creativity they are already interested in. Does your family include fans of anime or Pixar films? If so you may already have a sense of the visual styles they gravitate toward.
Any lover of graphic novels, movie poster art, or role-playing games (online or on paper) has certain styles they like better than others. You can get a great idea of where to start just by learning which of those styles has the most appeal.
Then you can start searching for appropriate events–for anime and animation fans, Anime Impulse Orange County in Costa Mesa is an annual event worth checking out as an example. Is this an art gallery or artist studio?
No, but these conventions are aimed at anime fans and artists alike; even the biggest fan conventions (like the Wizard World comic convention) feature something called “artist alley” where established and aspiring artists alike sell their latest publications, posters, and original artwork.
Another example? Years ago the Great Park Gallery at the Palm Court Arts Complex hosted a long-running show featuring manga and anime-inspired artwork. These two styles aren’t the only kinds of art you’ll find in your search, but they are two of the most popular.
Viewing art and making art are two different processes, obviously. If you have been showing art to your kids and want to take the journey to a more creative level, making art with them is a great place to begin.
Making art is challenging because of the common misconception that art is a talent you are born with rather than a skill you develop over time. Drawing, painting, sculpting, digital art, and all other forms are a lot like body building–you can’t lift 100 pounds on your first day. You work up to a certain level through repetition and watch yourself improve over time.
The arts are a similar process. You start out learning techniques (which may or may not be realistic or associated with realism in the work) and along the way you also begin to learn your own style.
The benefits of arts for kids in this area has a lot to do with learning different ways to approach things they see in everyday life. It’s one thing to view an object, it is another entirely to look at the object to try to draw it as you see it in real life. Learning how to see is the challenge of artists at any stage of their development.
These two learning processes are not necessarily connected and they don’t always happen at the same time. The key to surviving the initial awkward entry into making creative art? Understanding the “first waffle” concept.
When you make a waffle in a waffle iron for the first time, it usually doesn’t go well. That is the same experience you can have with the arts–the early work feels crude because you haven’t developed the muscles to make the shapes you need–yet. It’s hard to draw a perfect circle. But it’s something you can learn to do with the right tools and approach.
The real issue for some is deciding whether that perfection is necessary. It’s not, in many cases. Those who fret over not being able to draw a realistic face, for example, typically don’t understand that in painting and drawing the human face is one of the most difficult things to recreate.
The benefits of arts for kids in this area? It’s not just getting them to be creative, it’s also getting them to start managing their own expectations and learning how to be a positive self-critiquer.
It can be helpful to start making art at home using more abstract approaches at first. A stress-relieving neurographic drawing project that lets the artist make lines without trying to represent something in real life can be very freeing. It’s similar to something the Mayo Clinic refers to as “adult coloring”, where you use a coloring book approach to get used to making art. The less pressure there is to get the art “right” in the early days (for both kids and adults) the better.
You don’t have to be your own art teacher. Local artist studios often have classes for many age groups. Some “classes” are more like community art nights where the public is invited to come in to make art and relax with others interested in doing the same. Some community art nights are more adult-themed with BYOB options, while others may be more specifically aimed at kids.
Orange County has had a lot to offer in this respect over the years. Below is a list of Orange County studios, galleries, and businesses that have offered art classes to kids and teens in the past. This is not an exhaustive list and while current at press time some offerings, options, and events are subject to change.
- Art Academics Fullerton
- The Muckenthaler Cultural Center Fullerton
- The Art House La Habra
- Art Steps Costa Mesa, Yorba Linda, Laguna Hills
- The Art Studio Westminster
- Fibo Art Brea, Cypress, Fountain Valley, Tustin
- Hidden Talents Ceramic Studio Huntington Beach
- Huntington Beach Art Center
- Just Think Art Orange County
- March Art Studios Huntington Beach
- Mission Art Center Orange
- Muddy’s Studio Santa Ana
- Palette Station Santa Ana
- ARTime Barro Laguna Beach & Costa Mesa
- ARTime Studio Mission Viejo
- Art + Soul Collective Newport Beach
- The Artist Lab Woodbridge Village Center, Irvine
Check with you local parks and recreation department to find additional art classes and programs for kids.
|Museums in Orange County||Children’s Museums in Orange County|
|Art Walks in Orange County||Sawdust Art Festival|
|Historic Sites in Orange County||Festival of Arts – Pageant of the Masters|
Joe Wallace has been covering real estate, mortgage and financial topics since 1995. His work has appeared on ABC, The Pentagon Channel, Veteran.com plus a variety of print and online publications. He is a 13-year veteran of the United States Air Force and a former reporter for Air Force Television News.