The Unschooled Artists

The Diary Project

Taking lessons in creativity from my kids.

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but being home with my kids turned out to be more inspiring than any art school I can imagine. When my wife and I sent them off to school, I worried less about whether the classroom would rob them of their creativity and more about what would happen to my creativity without them around to inspire me.

Then came the pandemic and the lockdown.

My boys, Owen, 7, and Jules, 5, have been home for over 130 days now, and they’re back to their preschool levels of activity, filling the house with drawings, music, and other forms of creative chaos.

It isn’t all fun and games. Much of the art they make is their way of processing fear and anxiety about the uncontrollable terrors going on outside our house.

across the state of Texas, it’s unlikely the boys will be returning to school anytime soon. While the prospect of having them home indefinitely causes me mild existential dread and panic, I’m also curious to see what else they will make of this time.

“You can’t really teach art,” said John Baldessari, “you can just sort of set the stage for it.”

So here’s an assignment, from our house to yours: Forget school for now. Give your household time, space, and materials, and fill the rest of the summer with art.


Austin Kleon is the author of “Steal Like An Artist” and other illustrated books about creativity. Owen Kleon makes music and video games. Jules Kleon writes and draws stories. They live in Austin, Texas with their art director, Meghan Kleon.

The Diary Project is a weekly visual assignment series produced by Alicia DeSantis, Jennifer Ledbury, Lorne Manly and Josephine Sedgwick.

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