The importance of social connection
There has never been a more challenging time to care for and entertain kids at home than during this pandemic. There has been an enormous social and emotional impact for young people, who thrive on social contact and need their peers around them.
Social contact is a crucial part of their development – physical, mental and spiritual. The lack of social interaction has had to be replaced by technology, which is making them even more isolated, and having ‘company’ online is no substitute for friends in real life.
The isolation we have experienced is made more challenging by confusion and fear. While some children are too young to understand why young people and adults are wearing masks and we cannot see friends and loved ones, others are feeling anxious and frightened by the images they see around them, the constant isolation and the invisible threat of this virus.
Activating imagination with art
While the future is always uncertain, what we do know is that we will be living with the mental health impact of this isolation and anxiety for a long time to come.
With young children ourselves, here at Koh Living we know firsthand the impact of COVID-19 on our kids. We have been seeking ways to help them deal with the lack of social interaction and the stress of this situation – and quite naturally, we have turned to art.
One of the best ways to keep kids off screens, distracted and learning something new is art. There’s no better way to activate little imaginations and spark joy than playing with colour and creativity.
In fact research shows that art and creativity is an important stress buster to help keep our kids calm.
And who better to teach kids how to embrace the beauty of painting than the one and only Anna Blatman, one of Melbourne’s most loved and prolific artists?
Creating art classes with Anna Blatman
We were discussing our concerns for Melbourne’s kids, in particular, in conversation with Anna – and together, we developed a way for Anna to inspire and teach art to children online.
To help parents during this challenging time, Anna teamed up with Koh Living to provide free online art tutorials, in conjunction with our first ever Kids Painting Competition, which closes on Monday 5 October.
Making a passion come to life
Anna Blatman’s adventure with art began at the age of 23, when she decided to have some painting lessons.
“For a year, I learnt about mixing colours and applying paint in the impressionist style. I loved colour and to this day, still love putting colours together and have created my own unique style, which people really love.
“Since then, I have constantly painted, nearly every day for the last 32 years, but I do have Sunday’s off!
“I love flowers and nature, birds and rural settings. I like to take those scenes and make them my own and that makes me happy. It’s definitely my passion,” said Anna.
Anna loves to create paintings that are bright and bold – and that’s exactly what she has created for Koh Living with her iconic Aussie animals that now feature on our products, from water bottles and bamboo homeware to bags, keyrings and tea towels.
Losing yourself in art
Koh Living recorded seven short videos showing step by step how to paint our two favourite Aussie animals, Kylie the Koala and Kelly the Kookaburra and says she loved talking to the kids via video. “I felt I was able to really get my message across that creativity and individual style is something to be celebrated. When it comes to art and creativity, there is no right or wrong.
“I think it is so important for kids to paint and draw right now. With all the ups and downs we are going through, this is a way to just lose themselves in their own creativity. This is something they can have complete control over and focus on the job at hand, rather than all the worrying things that are going on in the world.
“Being yourself is so important – being an individual in art really works. You can admire other artists and their works and appreciate their methods, but every person has their own message to give to the world,” Anna said.
“I really hope the kids feel they have achieved something special after watching the videos and painting Kylie and Kelly themselves in their own way!”
We loved working with Anna too and it was such a thrill to actually see the beautiful Aussie animals we feature on our products come to life on canvas.
What the science says about stress and art
There is in fact an entire discipline of art therapy, used to help people recover from trauma and cope with stress.
Art is a way of tapping into the right side of the brain which sparks creativity, intuition, visualization, emotions, and daydreaming. Here are some of the ways art and creativity will help calm your kids.
Distraction. An important tactic in managing anxiety is to distract ourselves from what is tormenting our minds. Art is a great way to focus on something more positive, productive, and inspiring, especially for kids.
Flow. Artists can become so absorbed in their work that they achieve a state of flow, the sense of being completely engaged in an activity to the point of being in a near meditative state. When we are in a state of flow, we forget about all of our thoughts and lose track of time. (How great would this be as a parent!)
Mindfulness. When we are focused on an art project, we become completely absorbed into the present moment. This helps to quiet the mind as we become more concerned with doing the task at hand as completely and mindfully as we can and less concerned with judging and relating to things beyond the immediate context.
Self-care. Having a hobby we enjoy helps us feel more balanced and allows for mental and emotional downtime. Teaching our kids about self-care is really important right now and a great skill to have as they get older too.
Fantasy to escape
Since watching Anna’s videos, my daughter who is nine and her cousin, who is three are completely infatuated with Kelly the Kookaburra. They are creating a whole imaginary world for Kelly, a fantasy world that is beautiful, fun and engaging. It’s such a good thing for kids to get through these difficult times. To watch Anna’s videos and get your kids painting, click here.
To enter our competition and have the chance to win gorgeous Anna Blatman prizes worth $700, click here.
There are two age categories: 3-6yrs and 7-12yrs, with a 1st, 2nd and 3rd prize per age group. Competition closes on Monday 5 October. We can’t wait to see what your little artist creates!