Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Help your child become an artist

Art empowers children, and all of us,  in so many ways.  Here are some things you can do to encourage your child's creativity, confidence, intuitive and critical thinking--all the best parts of art making for the child in each of us.

Start young and don't stop. When we keep drawing and painting--our ability to articulate our world, and our feelings about it, keeps pace with our growing.  When we stop manipulating with our hands, and later want to begin again, our initial attempts will be at the level of skill where we stopped.

Encourage direct observation of nature. Create games of looking more and more deeply into the surfaces of forms.  I wrote a story for my Journey Oracle divination cards about a special way of looking:

As she grew her mother encouraged her to be a student of stillness, and taught her a special way of looking at things. “Do you want to see this eye?” Her mother would ask, which meant do you want to see this object in a way that belongs to the object and not to the human looking at it. She would show her how to look at the surface of something, and then find a smaller space on that surface and look into it, and then find a smaller space in that smaller space, and to do this smaller and smaller looking until finally the young girl was seeing cells of wood and hairs on plants and dust on butterfly wings.

Be wild sometimes. Self-discipline is necessary for an artist of any age, or one will never make time for doing the work of making art. But if your child doesn't go wild sometimes, she won't find a new way to say what is important.

Display your child's art in important family places.  Put the work on the refrigerator, a closet door, on the walls.  A statistically significant number of adult practicing artists cite seeing their paintings on the refrigerator as a factor in choosing art as a career.

Sign up for classes at a local museum, art gallery or artist's studio.  It is good for your child to have a widening view of what is possible in art.  This comes most easily when the art making experience is shared with others.  However, do choose an instructor who is willing to give honest critiques to students.  Even small children know when a passing comment of  "that's fine, dear" is disingenuous.

Encourage your child to have a relationship with a mentor. Perhaps the most powerful relationship your child can have is with a practicing artist or art teacher who lets them work along beside them. The camaraderie and easy flow of ideas and tips is priceless.

Purchase the best quality art materials you can afford for your teen artist.  A fine quality brush doesn't just paint, it performs. Materials that respond with beauty to the hand and imagination are part of a life in love with art.

Even though these 7 ways to help your child become an artist take time and some planning on your part, one day you may discover that something very mysterious and compelling has started to enter your child's visual vocabulary and way of making marks.

And from there, the journey is interesting enough to become a lifetime in art.

These art works are all from a wonderfully varied and dynamic show at the Old School House Gallery on Cortes Island, mounted by the Children's Forest Trust and curated by Krista Smith.
Although it is right effort in the present to empower children to contribute to such a worthy fund-raising cause, it is also a gift to the future to empower children in art.