The other day I was sitting at the
table art studio preparing my latest Temple magnet for the Shop...
when I looked up to see my two cute buddies sitting next to me painting away to their heart's content.
Then I thought back to my schooling in college. I remembered learning in a Child Development class how typically around the age of 9 or 10 children are often less willing to create art, they are less likely to want to draw and are self-conscious about the art they create. Often a child's art is stunted at this age because they don't want to continue to practice making it. Thus, many people's art (due to lack of interest or otherwise) is at about the level of a 10 year old.
To be honest there aren't a lot of things I remember specifically from my college days (what? it's been 6 years since graduation), but this one really stuck out in my mind.
In my own childhood I was drawing constantly. There were always endless supplies of scratch paper on which my sister's and I would create and draw. I found that in high school, and college there was hardly ever a note ever taken with some sort of doodling in the margin.
So what can I do to cultivate art in the lives of my own children?
First, there is always an endless supply of scratch paper onto which the children can draw, color, and paint whatever they feel like drawing. I'd say it was safe to say my boys spend time drawing or coloring almost every day. Some times I'll print off sheets from the internet of fun things (star wars legos) for them to color.
Have you ever let your child just paint for the sake of painting whatever they want? And I'm not just speaking of watercolor, which is an easy, fun paint. I'm talking about real paint, from a tube. I promise he or she would love it!
You wouldn't believe how entirely proud I was of my first born when he started to draw things that actually resembled what he said they were. I even have photographic evidence (it was a very proud day for me):
I remember those days very clearly. I would save everything he created and proudly show them all to my husband, who was for some reason a little less impressed with the art than myself.
Second, encourage them by looking at what they make and help give suggestions for improvement. I obviously don't always do this. Usually I let them do whatever they want. But if I want them to grow in their art I like to give them suggestions. Don't be shy in giving advice to help them grow. Should that boy have a belly? How many legs should a dog have? Let's see if we can fill up this whole page just with the face. The advice you give will help them in their practice. Often when my child will ask me to draw something for them I'll draw it on my paper and have them watch me. Then they know how to draw it for themselves.
Third, Start when they're young. Yes, that scribble, scribble doesn't look like much, but for a little one seeing their vision of, Oh, yes, I do see the robot eating the bad guys and giving positive reinforcement will always help encourage them to want to create in the future. And, as in all things, they will improve with time.
Fourth, sit down and make art with them. I promise they and you will love sitting together and creating together.
Fifth, you could always do fun things like visiting museums, checking out art books, taking an art class together, hanging up real art in their room for further encouragement.
I want my children to love art just as much as they do reading, writing, math, and all those other subjects that we know are so important for a successful child. I want my children to paint and draw when they're 2 and 8 and 10 and 15 and 22 and 55. So I'm doing what I can to encourage art and cultivating a home where art is not only appreciated but encouraged.