Are artists born or made?


When I watch my five year old draw, he has this natural flow with no obvious upfront agenda. He simply adds to his picture as he develops a narrative in his imagination. When his drawing doesn’t turn out the way he intended, he just changes his story and turns it into something else – without getting hung up on it being “right” or not. His flexible, joyful, non-critical approach to making art inspires me. It reminds me how much I loved to draw when I was little – and that unfortunately, like many, I stopped drawing as I got older.

drawing closeup

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Three reasons why kids compare and criticize their art and how you can help

‘My kids love to draw together, but my younger daughter becomes frustrated because her drawings don’t look as ‘good’ as her sister’s.’

‘My daughter has always loved painting but over this past year she has become self-conscious about her creations ‘not turning out right’ or not ‘being as good’ as her brother’s.’

I don’t know what to say to my son when he tells me, ‘Mine doesn’t look like the teacher’s. I messed up, it’s not good.’

Does any of this sound familiar?


Artist Johanna Wright

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7 Ways to Keep Little Artists Engaged this Summer


Most of the time our little artists need no input from us to express themselves but there are lots of ways we can broaden their creative endeavors by introducing them to a variety of artful experiences both at home and around Seattle this summer.

My youngest son loves to paint and my oldest is most alive when he is having a nightly dance party before bed. Whether your child’s favorite way to express himself  is through painting, dance or other art form, here are some ideas to broaden their exposure to the ‘Arts’ and keep their creative juices flowing:


Painting projects can happen on the fly if you have three basic supplies on hand: brushes, paints and paper. If you have a set of watercolor paints, take a look at this video for painting techniques your whole family can try. The Artful Parent blog is a great resource for a whole slew of painting projects. You can also plan to hit the Seattle Art Museum for family art fun on select Saturdays of each month. The SAM’s family program, designed for kids age 3-12, provides art projects and kid-inspired tours of the gallery. Details and online calendar can be found here.


No Time for Flash Cards

No Time for Flash Cards

We are lucky to have instant access to amazing craft projects curated by popular Seattle bloggers such as Make and Takes and No Time for Flash Cards. These prolific crafters, educators and parents share projects for every age, theme and season. Start collecting your jar lids and bottle tops for this recycled craft project inspired Kandinsky’s color study with concentric circles. Another project perfect for summer is this frisbee craft. Plan a good chunk of time visiting these blogs- by the time you click away, you’ll be all set with craft projects for the rest of summer.

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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


New Intermediate Program is coming June 24!


I’m so excited to announce the Intermediate Program will be available June 24!

The new program is filled with fun topics and great techniques for oil pastel and watercolor- two of my favorite art materials. But those aren’t the only reasons I am eager for your kids to dig into the new lessons-

The Intermediate Program represents what I truly set out to do when I began Thrive online.

I love seeing kids light up when making art, but I also have a bigger vision beyond teaching art techniques.  I want to support your child as they grow and stretch their creative muscles and develop the confidence to pursue anything they set their mind to- on paper and in life.

The Intermediate Program sets out to do just that- I introduce kids to the steps that go into being creative. They’ll learn how to come up with ideas, plan a project, get started and reflect on their work.  Knowing the creative process will give them confidence to spin off and create more on their own.

Have a peek at the Intermediate Program highlights:

Stay tuned for our official launch on June 24! And if you haven’t already, make sure to check out your free trial of the Beginner Program today!

The Perfect Homemade Father’s Day Gift in Three Easy Steps

Father’s Day is coming up and if you are on the hunt for the perfect homemade gift, this collaborative painting might be just the ticket. My kids and I had a blast painting together and we’re excited to surprise Dad with his special gift.

 If you don’t see yourself as the artsy type, don’t let that hold you back. This project is easy, fun, and made with love- what else could you want in a homemade gift?


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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.


Teach our Kids to Fail

We all want to raise confident and creative kids who fearlessly pursue their ideas, right? What’s the best way to accomplish this? Help them get comfortable with and learn from their failures.

In last week’s post I talked about helping your child to create a plan before diving into a project. This week is about the most challenging step in the creative process: taking action and doing the creative work to see an idea through- which often means dealing with the possibility of failure.

Image from


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