In 1998 at the age of 31 Belgian artist Dominique Goblet and her then 7-year-old daughter Nikita started drawing each other on a regular basis. A decade later their portraits were published in a book called Chronographie.
This book “is a tribute to the passage of time, growth, and experience, to the fleeting sensations that both mother and daughter captured and let slip,” writes award-winning author Roman Muradov in his new book On Doing Nothing: Finding Inspiration in Idleness.
“It has the lightness of each moment, as well as the weight of the years it took to complete,” Muradov adds.
It also illustrates a powerful way loved ones can connect and reconnect to each other, whether we’re professional artists or not (i.e., most of us). Through making art together, we don’t just spend quality time with our kids, we also get to see them. We also get to hear them. And they get to see and hear us, too.
Here’s a list of various ideas to get you started:
- Create a song. Collaborate on the melody and lyrics. Or use the melody of your child’s favorite song. Or use their toy instruments.
- Choreograph a dance together to their favorite song.
- Set a timer for a minute. During that time let your child start a drawing. When the timer dings, set it for another minute, while you add to their drawing. Then keep switching for 10 minutes (or more!).
- Depending on your child’s age, do the same thing with a poem (i.e., go back and forth adding words to your original poem).
- Draw each other’s eyes every day. Notice how your drawings evolve over time.
- Buy a drawing or activity book, and go through it together.
- Learn a skill together: sculpting, sewing, crocheting, oil painting. Maybe even take a class.
- Take regular walks around your neighborhood, and pick up stones, sticks, pine cones, and any other natural objects. Use them to create a work of art.
- Start a garden. Every day draw the plants or flowers or fruit or veggies that are growing there, and notice how and how much they change.
- Co-author a book. Make it a prequel or sequel to your child’s favorite story. Make it a picture book or book filled with silly comic strips. Make it a fairytale or an adventure. Make it about their favorite cartoon character, or let them be the protagonist.
- Take photos of each other in different places—around the house, in parks, at the grocery store, at the library. If you’d like, create a theme for your photos. Or take photos at the same time every morning, afternoon or night. After a month or three, create a photo book.
One of the best gifts we can give our kids is our presence. Which is harder and harder to do in our noisy world. But by sitting down, even for 10 minutes a day, side by side or face to face, looking and listening and laughing and creating all kinds of art, we can cultivate strong connections.
We can cultivate a strong foundation with our children. Which may be the most critical benefit of all.