The creative mastermind behind the fun, educational art-making activities taking place this summer at The Blanton is Jennifer Garner, the museum’s manager of school and family programs. Below, she writes about how to keep the creative spark alive from childhood to adulthood.
As a kid, I relished the opportunity to make things, particularly in the summer when school was out and I had more time. Sometimes this meant blending together whatever was in the frig to make a “smoothie surprise.” Other times I’d collect flowers from around the neighborhood and mix them with my mom’s perfume to make potpourri—an activity that wasn’t always looked upon with approval. Mostly, I would get together with neighborhood friends, and we would do art projects because we all loved drawing and painting and crafty things.
This may be why I so enjoy coming up with activities for families to do at the museum. When you invite kids to be creative, they do it just because it’s a fun thing to do. It’s easy to get them hooked. Adults can be a tougher sell because they don’t always feel free to express themselves creatively.
Strangely enough, as adults, we don’t often give ourselves permission to be creative. We worry that it’s not a practical thing to do when we have so many errands to run or that someone might judge that we aren’t artistic. But what we get from expressing ourselves can be great for our mental health. It allows us to process experiences and feelings in a different way than talking about them to someone. The more we create, the more we have opportunities to stop and reflect on what we think and believe and, essentially, understand ourselves better.
Creating can also be meditative and stress relieving. When we make something, we’re living in the moment and are focused on the process, not the end result. There’s something really special about just doing something for the sake of it. We can explore, be messy, take risks, and make mistakes without judgment.
This is exactly what I did when I created this chocolate syrup painting inspired by Vik Muniz’s work, Individuals, a week ago. I knew I couldn’t pass up the chance to use chocolate to make something. After all, chocolate syrup as an art material captures my idea of the messy fun that I had as a kid.
I didn’t have an image in mind that I wanted to create, so I glanced out of the window and “painted” the Capitol and some trees. And I was amazed at how satisfying it was to do it. It was so much fun!
I propose that we all take time to be creative in our lives. We should allow ourselves the joy to experiment, have fun, be present, even if it means waiting one more day to get the laundry done.
Want a chance to be creative with your family at The Blanton this summer? Join us for a drop-in art-making activity every Friday from 10 a.m. to noon through August 10, or come by the Family Creativity Center at The Blanton anytime.