From time to time, people ask if our 4-year old or I get tired of collaborating together when we draw, and so far, the answer has been a resounding “heck NO!” But to change it up a little so that we DON’T, we’ve done a few animals….and every once in awhile, we’ve started throwing some monsters in there.
Now, I’ve written about the monster doodles before, but since then, we’ve sort of expanded the process a bit. First, they start out with me drawing a monster head, and our daughter (just like with the “people” collaborations) would draw the body & any additional scenery on them.
Several of them end up in the water, for some reason.
Following her art direction, many of them end up patterned and pink.
This one, who needed a helmet before he could hop on his bike…
Or this one, who she insisted be in a rainstorm.
They’re often influenced by her little world, like this creature which came about not long after her first visit to a circus…
This one, which was of a cat-monster tossing candy to her at Halloween (that’s me in the yellow-striped shirt, picking her up)…
Or this one, which happened around the same time we made a gingerbread house for the holidays.
But the process itself REALLY started getting fun when (instead of drawing on the head I had pre-drawn) she and I started taking DIRECTION from eachother. “Let’s make a monster!” she’d say, and I’d get out a pen. “First step: it should have lots of eyes,” she said. So I drew lots of eyes. “Wings for ears. A bird beak.” Each time, I’d draw from her prompts in my own style. Then when it was her turn, and she’d follow my lead. “It should have antennae,” I said. “Pteranadon wings. And a dragon tail.”
Or she’d tell me, “It should have hair like Great Grandma’s (we were visiting her at the time). LOTS of noses. Glasses. Lots of down-pointing teeth, and horse ears.” Then I would tell her, “A snail body with stripes and lots of legs.” And she would add the extra details (like a decorative mouse flashlight and a bed) on her own.
It’s another fun little exercise in collaborating with the kid. And secretly, I know she enjoys practicing the rare moment of getting to “boss” me by telling me what to draw! She is still a bit rigid sometimes, and insists that I “didn’t do it right,” and I insist that when you work WITH someone, there IS no “right.” That you have to work WITH people, share their ideas, and just have fun. It takes some getting used to, because I can see those same perfectionist tendencies in our daughter that I have–wanting things to be “just so.” But it’s GOOD to step out of your comfort zone, and it’s GOOD to share.
So give it a try! Sit down for a bit, take your kid’s direction, and let ‘m tell YOU what to do for a moment–just to see what happens….It doesn’t have to be with drawing; try letting them tell you what shapes to glue down, what clothes to put on, or how to decorate cupcakes. And show me how it worked for you!