I come from a creative family. My older sister is an artist, my younger is a landscape architect. I was a film major in university. We grew up drawing and crafting. Art is something I am passionate about – both viewing and creating. It’s been a very interesting process sharing art with my kids. Here’s what I’ve discovered.
1. Process is more important than product.
Especially when children are young, the explorative process of art is critical. Allowing them free reign to experiment with different media always yields the most interesting results. And, it keeps them far more engaged than if I were to have a set product in mind for creation.
All the often (always?) we see preschool art projects that involve having an adult help a child cut out shapes, and then show them where to glue them. Where they are allowed to add sparkles. Where a nose goes. What kind of creature they are making. The fact that they are making a creature. These projects often frustrate me. Where is the child’s imagination allowed to run free? What exactly are they learning by engaging in this kind of task? True. They are developing fine motor skills by learning how to use scissors. How to glue with precision, and, I guess they are learning where noses go. But, with art, I am always more concerned with the mind.
How are they engaging their mind? How are they falling in love with the process of creating art? And, later, the expression of their own thoughts and feelings through different media. I think “art time” can be so much more constructive (and so much more rewarding) when we let our children take the lead.
2. Our children are more creative than we are.
I encounter this again, and again. It’s rather sad. My son and I are drawing. He actually doesn’t have a lot of patience for drawing. All too often we sit down together, and he scribbles a few half-hearted lines. While he does this, I attempt to sketch him. It’s fun, but he usually doesn’t last long. But, sometimes, when I catch him in the right frame of mind, he surprises me.
A few weeks ago we were drawing and he was scribbling again. I caught myself wondering when he will ever start creating representations. Where are the circles for faces? The lines for legs? Then, I asked him what he was drawing. He tells me it is a picture of his brain. Oh… The inside of his brain, and the scribbles are his thoughts and they travel through his brain. He points out different sections of his drawings. This one representing dreams. This being his skull. This part his neck.
I ask him what he calls his drawing. “Thinking of Dreams.”
I share this story because, never, in a million years would I have thought to ask him to draw his brain. Draw the process of his thoughts, and dreams. In fact, I would never have thought of it myself. I took a step back, and thought, wow. I guess it isn’t that he doesn’t like to draw. He just prefers to express what is inside his head (literally!), rather than what surrounds him. Sure, later, I’ll guide him in how to see things like an artist. How to really look at something, and how to translate that to paper (not that I’m an expert by any means). But, for now (and hopefully, for a long time), we’re both much better off if I let him express himself without my guidance. Art is one place where I do not want to plant any preconceived ideas too soon.
3. Art is actually science (which is also actually play).
In it’s raw state, art is one big experiment. What happens if I mix red with yellow. What happens if I draw in my paint. What happens if I rip this paper? Or poke this playdough? What can I do with a whole bunch of glue? And it’s experimenting in the best sense, because there is never any concrete right or wrong. Just expression in all it’s many forms.
Later, art becomes even more of a science. When people learn to draw in 3D, or using proper perspective. It’s not only science, it’s math. And it’s very amazing to see how different principles can be applied to create different outcomes. To create worlds on the page, or sculptural models. To create light and shadow on film. It’s one big, endless, wonderful, creative experiment.
4. Art allows one to access a different part of the brain.
I can literally feel this shift. When I am doing creative work, especially when it is free form (not following directions, or a specific pattern etc), my mind feels free. Sometimes, I feel out of my element. Sometimes I don’t even know where to go with it. But, I feel wonderfully, blessedly, amazingly free. Like my mind has shifted, and, if I let myself go, I can wake from the slumber hours later. Not feeling groggy, as when I lose hours to the computer, but feeling alive, and, I don’t know, kind of tingly. It’s amazing.
It’s also a gift that’s important to give to our kids. The ability to deprogram with unfettered creativity. Yes, art is messy. Yes, it can seem like a hassle to start up. But, just giving kids a bunch of materials, and letting them have at it, may be one of the best things we can do for their brains. Particularly when they are working so hard to process everything around them, everyday.
So, if you’re a reluctant artist. Don’t feel like you need to know anything. To do anything. Just give your kids free reign. After awhile, ask them about what they are doing. Their answers may surprise you.
Oh, and my last point…
5. Art is so very good for us, too.
Our best days are the ones when I get involved, too. When I get so caught up in the creative process, that I find myself joining in.
I’d love to know how it works for you. Please share your own art projects, days and discoveries with this week’s
Here’s how it works:
- Every week, I write a bit about an educational topic or subject.
- With each post, I’ll include a link to the Tuesday Tutorial page for that category (for example, today’s page, Art!).
- Each page will have a linky for you to link up your own tutorial (past or present) on the subject.
- Plus, every member that links up, will also have their post added to the Member Pinterest page. A visual collection of member tutorials for us all to share!
All the best, and happy creating!
We’re linking up with: Saturday’s Artist @ Ordinary Life Magic