How to talk to your children about their art

We’ve got a big box under our bed, full of pictures and paintings that the children have done.

Most of Rhys’ drawings from the past year have been pretty self-explanatory – they’re pictures of scenes from Angry birds.  Others though, are a bit more abstract, and I’ve found myself so close to saying “that’s great… what is it?” on several occasions.

But I’m very aware that this might upset him, and I really want to encourage his creativity, not make him question his artistic abilities!

So, I’ve done some research and found some great ways to talk to your children about their art, so you can get them to explain their work to you, without hurting their feelings by making it obvious that you just can’t tell what it’s supposed to be.

How to talk to your children about their art

I love the idea of taking the time to talk to my children about their artwork because, as well as finding out what the blob on the page is actually meant to be, it could also give some great insight into their creative process, into how they see the world and the way they think.

So, here is my advice for how you can talk to your children about their art:

Getting started.

The best question to ask to get the conversation started is, “would you like to tell me about your picture?

Now, I love this for two reasons.

Firstly, it’s a lovely way of basically asking “what is it?” and secondly, this specific question gives your child control of the situation as they have the chance to say no, actually they wouldn’t like to talk about it!

Art can be so personal; even small children might not want to discuss it with other people.

But if they do want to talk about it, then this open question is a great way to get them explaining what the picture is of and what the different elements are.


Talking inspiration.

Once you have an idea of what the picture is of, then you can start asking your child questions like “where did you get the idea for this from?”  and “why did you chose to use this colour here?”.

This gets your child thinking about their choices and gives you great insight into what inspires them and how they see the world.

Maybe they always use the ‘right’ colours for things, because they like order and like things to be as they should be, or maybe you’ve got a creative maverick on  your hands who likes to paint green skies and rainbow-coloured grass.

Either way, encourage them, there are no rights and wrongs when it comes to art!


Talk about their technique.

If your child is really into art then this is a great way to foster their interest and further their knowledge.

Asking them, “how did you draw that shape?” or “how did you create that effect for the leaves?” is a great way to get a conversation started where you can then discuss other methods that they might not know about yet.


Ask how they feel about it.

Now you might think that this one is just for older children, but talking about feelings in relation to artwork can be great even for younger children.  I mean, your 2 year old might not be able to express that the red they used represents a deep-rooted rage about the current political situation, but they could talk to you about other feelings relating to their picture.

Asking them “What do you like best about your picture?” is a good place to start!

With older children you can take it further and ask them questions like “How were you feeling when you painted it?“.

You might find that at times they don’t really have an answer, and that’s fine, we all have times where we just draw and doodle and create with no particular emotion attached to the activity.

But sometimes you’ll find that they’ll be able to tell you that they were happy or sad or angry when they painted the picture, and you can then discuss how that emotion can be seen in the painting.

This is a great way to encourage your child to open up about things that are going on in their lives, as well as being a way to encourage them to think more about their artwork.


The main thing to remember, is to be led by your child.  If you find that they don’t seem to want to answer your questions, then don’t push it.  Don’t force them to talk about what they’ve created if they don’t seem to want to.

What you can try instead, is to make a few comments about their art, and over time you’ll hopefully find that they’ll start to open up and tell you some things about what they’ve created.

And remember, your comments don’t have to be praise, they can simply be statements about what you see.  So things like, “wow, you used a lot of red in this picture” and “look at all the circles you’ve drawn” are just fine!


Do your children like to draw and paint?  If so, I really hope these ideas help you next time you’re presented with a mystery work of art!


Mr and Mrs T Plus Three
Keep Calm and Carry On Linking Sunday


  1. 07/08/2016 / 9:15 pm

    This is lovely guidance for anyone talking to children about their artwork. I find it quite easy because, having worked in sales for a long time, open questions are my thing! I also genuinely love children’s artwork and the creative process, and I think enthusiasm helps. Their father, on the other hand….! #TheList

    • This glorious life
      11/08/2016 / 9:43 pm

      Haha, love that your sales skills help you as a parent! x

  2. 07/08/2016 / 9:58 pm

    This is so lovely. My two are still too little, although my eldest would possibly be able to tell me about his picture. Art is a fab past time for kids and you’re right that we should be involved with it too

    • This glorious life
      11/08/2016 / 9:37 pm

      My daughter is 2 and I love asking her about her drawings, her answers are sometimes fascinating! x

  3. 07/08/2016 / 10:57 pm

    Such a useful and really important post for people to read. It’s so easy for us to say ‘oooo that’s great, well done’ but as you have highlighted it’s so much better to have a conversation. There’s lots of research going on at the moment about praise and how teachers/parents can use it to help/hinder progress and this has shown that it’s better to be less effusive! I love all this stuff. Thanks for sharing. #TheList

    • This glorious life
      11/08/2016 / 9:33 pm

      Thank you for your lovely comment. x

  4. 08/08/2016 / 10:37 pm

    I LOVE this! Thank you so much for sharing as I am sometimes at a loss as to what to say when I have no idea what my daughter has made or drawn in fear of upsetting her. She draws constantly and quite often the results are rather abstract 🙂 #KCACOLS

    • This glorious life
      11/08/2016 / 9:30 pm

      Thank you for your lovely comment! It’s so hard when you don’t have a clue what the drawings are of, so open-ended questions are the way to go! x

  5. 09/08/2016 / 3:50 am

    Thanks for sharing this! My daughter also draws mostly abstract art being four years old, and I have often wondered whether she would take offence to me asking what it is supposed to be. In nursing school we were always told to ask our patients open-ended questions, and it makes complete sense to do this with our children as well! That way their responses are not limited to our perceptions.
    Tori @ The Mama Nurse

    • This glorious life
      11/08/2016 / 8:37 pm

      Open-ended questions are definitely the way forward! Thank you for commenting, so nice to hear that this post has been useful! x

  6. 09/08/2016 / 6:06 pm

    What brilliant ideas! My son is 3 and love drawing and talking so I’ll definitely be using some of these techniques lol! #thelist

    • This glorious life
      11/08/2016 / 8:22 pm

      “loves drawing and talking” – love it! Hope this post helps you out a bit! x

  7. 11/08/2016 / 9:42 pm

    Very interesting post. My girl is just under two so doesn’t notice when her artwork mysteriously disappears. But it’s great to have an understanding of how to appraoch her artwork when she’s older. Thanks #KCACOLS

  8. 11/08/2016 / 10:18 pm

    This is a great post – some really great ideas on how to spark up a conversation about their work. Most children I know love to tell you about something they’ve drawn or made so having some starter questions on hand is fab #KCACOLS

  9. 12/08/2016 / 2:05 pm

    These are great tips. My two are so young I really can get away with just saying ‘what is it?’ To which they respond with some random word! ‘It’s a stripey’ – something like that! But I agree that with older children you need to be more tactful so that they are not put off! #KCACOLS

  10. 12/08/2016 / 3:47 pm

    OHhh this has some great advice! I will definitely use some of these with Biggest. Will have a think about how I can modify slightly as his autism means he really struggles with vague language – “Tell me about your picture” wouldn’t work because to some autistic children that would simply be too big a question to answer as it could mean anything to do with the picture and that can be really overwhelming for him to try to think about what you mean. Some of the other suggestions could definitely work well though:) #KCACOLS

    • This glorious life
      12/08/2016 / 6:46 pm

      I wonder if there is a way to make that open-ended question work for your son, I’ll have to do some research into it I think. x

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