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  • Writer's pictureLisa Brideau

Draw a Little Dream Art

4 Types of Art Journals to Explore with your Artsy Kids

a young boy drawing in a journal with colored pencils
Art journals need no words.

Did you ever see something happen that didn't make sense to you and you thought — wow, that was surreal? The same thing can happen for children, although they may not have the words to describe or process what they experience. When my oldest was very young, sleepwalking became a problem. One night I went into the bedroom, and my oldest was standing on top of the bookcase headboard — talk about surreal!

I was hoping to set my mind at ease with a trip to the pediatrician, but as you can guess, there was no easy fix. The pediatrician basically said that my child was very creative and needed a way to process experiences and feelings. Umm, how could I help my child — who seemed to talk about everything — process what wasn't being said?

Being artistically-challenged, I'm definitely more comfortable with words than visual expression, but talking wasn't enough for my child, so I tiptoed into a more visual experience for both of us. I took out the paper and crayons, and we drew a little dream art. My oldest drew while we both talked about our dreams. I guess you could say that was the beginning of our dream art journaling and I'm glad to report the end of sleepwalking. Eventually, sheets of paper were replaced with art journals, so none of the treasured drawings were lost or misplaced, and the art expanded beyond dreams.

Art journals are a great way for children to creatively express themselves and process ideas and feelings without the pressure to find the right words. There's no right or wrong way for them to journal, and no one checks for spelling or grammar errors. The sky's the limit with art journals!

Dream Art Have your children ever told you about a fantastic dream they had the night before? In my experience, the dreams were very vivid and exciting when shared first thing in the morning, but faded as the day went on. By the end of the day, there's little to no recollection of the dream. By using an art journal to record dreams visually, children have a  creative outlet and a way to remember those exciting feelings in the dream. Encourage your children to draw, color, paint, or collage what they remember about their dreams and how they felt. Dream journals can also be useful if your children wake up in the morning upset by a nightmare. Recording dream art from nightmares can be reassuring to children. They see they have power over their nightmares and can express negative or scary emotions.

Express Emotions Children feel things very deeply, and it can be hard for them to understand and communicate what they're feeling. An art journal gives them a place where they can convey their feelings without having to use words to describe them. It may be as simple as color on a page or as complicated as a scene that they fall into as they're creating it, but it gives them a place to express themselves without worrying what others will think. It also helps them own their feelings, which can be empowering for children. Remember to let the children take the lead and give them space to explore and express their emotions as they see fit. Ideally, they would want to share their art, but be supportive if they prefer to keep it private, at least for now. Perhaps they'll want to share afterward.

Daydreams Childhood should be filled with endless possibilities. Ideas may not be practical, but that doesn't make them any less valid. A daydream journal can be filled with visuals of all the ideas children have, regardless of the feasibility. A small germ of an idea, when visualized in an art journal, can lead to big ideas and are a terrific way for children to learn to be innovative thinkers. Consider looking at Rube Goldberg for inspiration for your children who may or may not feel artistic.

Daily Prompts Did you ever notice that young children start out very visual? It makes perfect sense since they're building their vocabulary and may not have the words to communicate. But wouldn't it be wonderful if they could remain visual even as their vocabulary grew. A daily prompt for an art journal is a great way to keep those creative, visual juices flowing. Think of it like using creative muscles — the more they practice, the stronger the muscle gets. It doesn't have to be complicated or take a long time and can be tailored to the interests of your children. Consider joining in on the art journal fun to flex your own visual creativity, so your children see that you value artistic expression as well.

Although my children are now living on their own, I hope they still keep their head in the clouds and an art journal nearby to record their dream art — especially when those surreal moments spring up, and they're scratching their heads.

To explore an artist who specialized in the surreal, check out the Art to Know with MommyO™ blog or vlog where fine art is always fun art!

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