Think and Make Like an Artist

posted in: Claudia Boldt, Eleanor Meredith | 2

If you’ve a school holiday coming up, it might be time to put Think and Make Like an Artist – Art activities for creative kids! by Claudia Boldt (@ClaudiaBoldt) and Eleanor Meredith (@e_meredith) on your list of emergency supplies.

Vibrant and eye-opening from the start, Think and Make Like an Artist combines fun and creativity with thoughtfulness and gentle self-reflection in a way I’ve not often seen done so well. As befits a book with “think” as the first word in its title, it’s full of questions and things to ponder on in relation to how and why art is created. These starting points for investigation are presented with energy and openness, rather than as a set of questions with closed and strictly prescribed answers, really encouraging the trying of new things and ‘giving it a go’.

Eight different chapters cover a wide range of artistic endeavours demonstrating that art isn’t just painting or drawing but can include costume design, architecture, paper craft and photography. Each chapter follows a set structure, with first a comic-strip style introduction to the art form in question, and then a presentation of a piece of art in that style. The artists featured are not your usual suspects and I’m sure that even if you’ve already got several art based books for kids, you’ll discover some intriguing and liberating artists thanks to Think and Make Like an Artist.

Following a page of prompts designed to stimulate the brain and encourage thinking about the choices you can make before picking up your scissors or fabric or camera, each chapter includes two or three step-by-step photo tutorials for different art projects, each related to the chapter’s given topic. These activities are not about reproducing the art of the featured artist, but rather using an aspect of their approach to try something new.

Not only does the the clear, bright design and presentation of original and playful projects work really well at breaking down any barriers felt by those hesitant about making mess and taking risks, this book is rich enough to also spark new ideas in those already happiest with paint-stained fingertips.

Whilst the visual appeal of an activity book is hugely important, the real test comes when you try out the projects inside. A cook book which doesn’t ultimately deliver a satisfying meal as a result of a well-written recipe is simply a coffee table book, and not one that will ever truly come to life in a kitchen. Likewise with a book full of craft projects; I want such books not only to entice and excite and inspire, but to deliver!

And so, we set about trying out a couple of the craft ideas inside Think and Make Like an Artist. The activity the girls were most surprised by, and caused most discussion was a piece of mini activist sculpture – like an upside down snowglobe acting as a commentary on climate change and sea level rises. Most activities in the book are not this political, but I really liked how this book created a space for our family to talk about how art as well as simply being enjoyable to create and beautiful to observe, can also play a political role (cue lots of looking by us at Banksy graffiti).

I’ll let our photos speak for themselves – you’ll need to get a copy of Think and Make Like an Artist if you want full instructions on our drowning and underwater cities 😉

Definitely a big thumbs up from us on the “recipe” front of this activity book!

Whilst making our sinking and submerged worlds we listened to:

  • Vincent (Starry Starry Night) by Don McLean
  • Picasso’s Last Words by Paul McCartney & Wings
  • The Art Teacher by Rufus Wainwright
  • Picasso, That’s Who! (And So Can You!) – a really kid-friendly and fun album by Hope Harris

  • When are you going to next let yourself be creative? This book will certainly help if you’re looking for a good excuse!

    Disclosure: I was sent a free review copy of this book, by its publisher, Thames and Hudson.

    2 Responses

    1. Anamaria

      I’m always on the lookout for art books, and this one looks fabulous–starting with that title (think!). Love the focus on contemporary artists, too.

      • Zoe

        Yes, I did think of you Anamaria. I think this is a lovely lovely book – zingy to look at, and with art projects that I haven’t seen before and with the added bonus of a bit of thoughtfulness in a very child friendly format
        Zoe recently posted..Think and Make Like an Artist

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