Little children often delight in their art don’t they? Showing it off proudly, insisting it is stuck to the fridge and adoring making everyone’s birthday and Christmas cards. They wade into play dough with abandon and glitter is their best friend. My kids were like this and yet as they have gotten old their confidence seems to have wavered and as a result their interest declined.
What happens to that belief in themselves as an artist?
My children are now 8 and 11 (I know, quite how did that happen!) and somewhere along the line they have lost a little creativity. I partially blame the UK school system that does not seem to value art and crafts very highly and pours huge swathes of energy into grammar and maths and passing SATS instead.
But I do also blame myself. I have a tendency to get overwhelmed with squeezing the very most out of life and sometimes forget to give my kids what they need in order to be creative. I have tried to grab that backover the last year and so here are my top 5 ways to encourage a reluctant artist to re-embrace heir creativity
1. Inspire them
Children need to see that art has many forms and styles and just because they cannot do an exact replica of something they are looking at this does not make them ‘useless’ or rubbish’ Show them Van Gogh and Cezanne , show them Kandinsky and Franz Marc, art has room for all sorts of representations swirls, colours, shapes and visions. let them know great art is all about how THEY see not faithful copying. Art galleries and art books are really useful ways to convey these messages. true art is all about individual style and expression.
2. Give them the good materials
Children need fresh reams of paper, a box of recycled craft material, glue sticky tape, scissors, felt tips , pens clay and a place to create. Tools don’t have to cost a fortune but I would suggest a variety of usable drawing and art tools really encourage kids to be creative and keeps their art materials accessible and in good order.
3. Give them physical space to be creative
How annoying is it to be in the middle of a wonderful project and someone makes you clear it all away because either it’s time for tea or they want to vacuum, agggh so frustrating. Children need to be given space to be creative and room for their project.
Ignore the mess if you can it is all part of the artistic process and you wouldn’t want to interrupt that would you?
4. Give them a variety of mediums
Art does not have to mean drawing or painting and as children grow and can be trusted not to eat the clay or smear glue in their hair now is the time to let them be with such materials and to get creative and sticky!It’s fun no matter what your age, but being a bit more grown up with art as your child grows will really help keep them engaged.
We have been experimenting with modelling clay recently it sounds so much more grown up than playdough doesn’t it, so older children may be more willing to embrace it We had a great time and made some fun Christmas decorations.
How about knitting or sewing to encourage their artistic development or even pot painting or printing on fabrics? Using a variety of medium adds levels of new interest and children will invariably find some appeal more than others so it is well worth mixing it up.
5. Get involved yourself
If you show your children that you as an adult find art interesting and absorbing too it takes away the connotations that it is too childish for them. Why don’t you go out together spotting street art, watch you-tube tutorials together and try them out. I bet when they were little you painted with them a lot and often got the craft bits and bobs out?