My Mum and Dad gave me an old box from their attic the other day, full of some of the things I’d hoarded as a child – in there were some small craft projects I’d made (mostly taken from the tutorials which appeared in Woman’s Weekly magazine, which my Mum subscribed to). Each week there were gorgeous projects in there for hand-made toys and gifts, which I would cut out, file away and keep. In the box there were also a couple of my old scrapbooks, some of my old school books, some illustrated stories I’d written, and some artwork. All of which I’d done around the age of 10 or 11. They survived purely by ‘accident’, in that I am a hoarder by nature, from a family of hoarders, yet I am not aware of any of my earlier artwork surviving, or any of that of my siblings.
In contrast there are plenty of photos of us all as children (well, perhaps not so many of me as a baby as I’m the youngest, and the novelty had worn off by the time I came along), and I got to thinking about how we all tend to take loads of photographs of our kids, and even pay for expensive portrait sittings, yet when it comes to our children’s early creative efforts, their survival is generally accidental at best. Why is this? After all, while a photograph is an excellent way of documenting and remembering what a person looked like, if you really want to learn about someone, their character, their likes, dislikes and preoccupations, their creative work can be so much more revealing and evocative. (See my earlier post on What does your Child’s Artwork Reveal? if you want to find out more about this). For example my love of history is apparent even in this artwork which was carried out around the age of 10 and 11. The main image, from what I remember, was inspired by the story of The Little Match Girl, so I set it in the Victorian era. In the other image is my first ever oil painting (inspired by Van Gogh’s Sunflowers after I was given a set of oil paints for Christmas one year), a picture I drew on holiday in Whitby, (I always took a sketchbook with me) and a book of stories I wrote, illustrated, and attempted to type (badly) on our portable typewriter. These were all my own projects. The other two were done at school – a cartoon strip story, which I remember I got high marks for, and an illustrated essay, again, set in the past. It seems that I loved to illustrate stories – maybe I missed my calling in life!
Most young children will create artwork of some form – it is perhaps the earliest and simplest form of self-expression, before they learn to write and spell, and express themselves through the written word. Yet the fate of that early work is often uncertain at best. There’s no reason why this should be the case as there are so many ways that this early artwork can be treasured, displayed and kept for posterity. It is one of my aims to collect and share some of those ideas here on Artful Adventures, as I come across them, and of course it is also the raison d’etre behind many of the products I have developed at Artful Kids!
Capturing children’s personalities at an early age can be done in lots of different ways. For example I’ve come across a number of articles online that suggest giving children the same set of questions to answer each year on their birthday, the changing answers each year as they grow, documenting their developing personalities. I love this idea, but still haven’t got round to actually implementing it. Those of us who maintain family blogs or diaries, will at least have something to look back on that records their children’s lives and personalities when they were young, but I struggle even to do this.
Therein I think lies the problem for many of us when it comes to actually doing something with our children’s creative work – simply getting round to it. But if you do want to do something more in terms of having a visual reminder of your children’s personality through their early artwork, here are a few suggestions from earlier posts:
Or check out my Pinterest board on Using Children’s Artwork
And finally, if you want to find out more about how to look after those keepsakes, this post gives more information: