Talk nice to yourself

‘Accentuate the Positive, Eliminate the Negative….’ Do you know this song? Some say focusing on the positive is the key to happiness. I happen to think it’s a great concept – one that has become my mantra when teaching art and parenting my kids.

Having positive self-talk can make a big difference when our kids are learning something new. Take learning to draw- when kids are unhappy with their drawing, it can go one of two ways- they either keep trying or they give up. Wouldn’t it be great if our kids’ internal voice was compassionate and compelled them to keep trying?


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Watercolor Techniques

If you have art supplies around your house, it’s likely you have a set of watercolor paints and very little guidance is necessary before your kids can dive in and create bold bright paintings or subtle delicate masterpieces with them. But like anything, the more they learn and explore different techniques, the more options they will have when they want to create specific effects-  like filling in small spaces without color running around or creating a sunset in the background of their picture.

This week I’m sharing some traditional watercolor techniques you can practice with your kids to get different effects, plus a few tips to care for your supplies that will make them last longer.

Here’s a video from the Intermediate Program that will have your child’s watercolor repertoire expanded in no time.

If you’d like to have watercolor supplies on hand but not sure where to begin, here’s a basic list:


Watercolor Paint

This set of eight colors provides rich, fade-resistant paint that goes on smoothly. The lid can be uses as a palette to mix additional colors. For more color options, look for Prang Oval Set of 16. Non-toxic and odor free.

How I faced my Fear of Failure

I did something really brave, at least it was brave for me. I stood up in front of 700+ people and gave a talk at Ignite Seattle back in May. You may not know it but I’m terrified of public speaking. You’d think it would be a breeze since I’ve been on camera with Thrive Online, but in front of a live audience, there are no out-takes. I had one shot to share a message that I care deeply about and this was my first time public speaking since I bombed on stage during a high school play over 20 years ago. I still remember my mind going completely blank, the spotlight on me, the audience’s uncomfortable whispers and the shame I felt when I left the stage.

 Ironically, my Ignite Seattle presentation was about supporting kids through their feelings of failure and as I approached the microphone, my heart pounded. I was terrified my mind would go blank, that I would fail publicly, again.

And you know what- it happened, after my first slide, I froze. All I could hear in my head was- shit, shit, shit. Those seconds of silence felt like agonizing minutes. But this time I stayed on stage. This time I finished my talk. And while I did go blank- twice- (which I am still having a hard time letting go of), I faced my fear and moved through it- unintentionally demonstrating the primary message of my talk.

 So often we associate failure with shame and pain and want to avoid it at all costs. But daring to go after our dreams and step into the fire, is worth the risk. My presentation wasn’t flawless, but I had the opportunity show up and share what’s important to me and some of that old high school shame melted away.

Things in life never go exactly how we’d like. But if we try again- celebrate what worked and learn from what didn’t, we set a great example for our kids. We show them that there is always more to learn and ways we can grow. We teach them that overcoming failure is necessary in creating a life you love.

Ignite Seattle: I Want to teach your Child to Fail


How to talk to your kids about what they create


Wouldn’t it be cool if you could better understand what your child’s experience and process was when making their art? What was going through their creative mind when they drew that picture or painted that landscape?  Does their art say anything about their hopes, their dreams, or their fears?

For the final post in my series on How we Create, I want to share a tool we use in our online program called Art Talk. Art Talk helps kids think about and share their creative learning. Reflecting on the experience is often overlooked but it can be the most valuable part of creating.

Here are five great conversation starters you can use to help your child get the most out of their creative process.


Two ways to help your kids solve their own problems

In my last post I introduced the four steps for creating. Today it’s all about step one: generating ideas. More specifically, it’s about how to help kids keep their ideas flowing as they grow up.Thumb-IMG_7684

Young kids have a constant stream of light bulb moments and that flow tends to slow as they age. Coming up with ideas is not only fun, it’s critical to creating and problem solving and it’s on my parenting (and teacher) radar to help kids sustain their innate ability to generate ideas as they grow.

In our house we’ve finally arrived – my boys (age 2 and 4) can go from one idea to the next, playing well together for nearly 10 whole minutes. They construct play spaces, have dance parties, and fix all kind of ‘problems’ (masking tape is a staple on the shopping list) with no adult intervention.  True parenting bliss, albeit brief.

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Three tips for making art at home

Whether you are taking a Thrive art lesson or having an impromptu art extravaganza at the kitchen counter, here are three things to keep in mind to make it stress free and maximize the fun.

Set the scene. Have you ever tried to focus on something and the tv was blaring, or there was a mess everywhere? It’s not easy. Same goes with art. Provide your child with a peaceful semi-organized setting for their art making activity. Soft music without lyrics is a great way to set the tone.


Be prepared. Have the materials out and ready at arms-reach before beginning. Most important supply- paper towels! I learned this the hard way when my 2 year old walked through paint spilled on the floor and continued to run across the carpet as I chased his colorful little footprints down the hall.



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Why Draw?

Do you remember being asked in elementary school to write and illustrate stories? For me, the drawing part was always discouraging. I loved to write tales about living on our farm and especially about my horse but I couldn’t draw one for the life of me. In fact, I stopped drawing all together after multiple attempts that felt like failures.  It wasn’t until I was an adult that I realized that everyone can learn to draw, we just need to learn how!

Watch this video to learn some of the awesome benefits of drawing.

How has drawing made a difference in your life? I’d love to hear your stories!


Tip-Why-Draw from Thrive Art School on Vimeo.

5-4-3-2-1 Launch!

Hello there! Thanks for stopping by. This blog is all about raising creative kids! You’ll find quick projects that make creating easy and loads of tips for supporting your child in creating what they want in the world.

I also love brain stuff too. Brain science that is. Two brains are better than one and I am fascinated by helping our kids make use of both sides of their noggin. Creativity is not solely about sparks of inspiration- that’s just the beginning. What lights me up is seeing kids who are problem solvers and innovators because they have the confidence and skills to turn inspiration into reality.

What ever I write about-  drawing, painting, problem solving and every glorious mess in-between, I make sure to do it in bite-size chunks ‘cause I know you are busy busy!

Feel free to let me know if there is anything you’d like to see- I’m here and it’s what I love to do!

Here’s to raising creative and confident kids!