Have you ever heard anyone say, “I don’t know how to draw” or “I can’t draw”?
The truth is everyone CAN draw. (Just pick up the color pencil or paintbrush and you know what I mean.) No, I’m kidding, we absolutely CAN draw. And even if we start off at ground zero, with some lessons and effort (not to mention some willpower and good ol’ positive thinking), I’m sure we can make a budding artist out of everyone.
Too often, we allow ourselves to be hindered by other people’s expectations of what beauty is. And we tell ourselves (and others) that we can’t draw, so as not to set any expectations.
I remember as a primary school kid that I always thought of my own artwork as mediocre. At least until I had the privilege of coming under a rather enthusiastic form teacher. She used to bring some of my drawings to the principal’s office and even pulled me in one day to personally witness her praising my work in front of the principal! Needless to say, I thought that she was a wee bit weird.
But still, the fact that I remember such an event occurring in my lifetime means something, doesn’t it? Well, I didn’t go on to pursue art (just didn’t think it was my thing, you know) but I do find myself enjoying getting my hands dirty with my toddler nowadays.
And since I have a vested interest in learning more about art, I signed up for a workshop by Rebecca Chan, a lecturer in the psychology of art with the Visual & Performing Arts Department at NTU…And I picked up some rather useful tips that I thought would be good to share:
There are only two areas where a child can be free and enjoy full control. One of them is play, the other is art.
So what that means is, try not to take this freedom away from your child, or curb it by imposing rules of what is ‘proper’ or ‘normal’. Instead, encourage them to just do what they want (of course, within reasonable limits. I’m not saying allow your kids to paint your whole house red.) For example, if they choose to draw a fish with three eyes, let them. Oh yes, and erm, be mentally prepared for the mess and clean-up afterwards. (I usually cheat by doing paintwork at the balcony so I can wash away everything with the hose after.)
A supportive environment is all you need to help grow your child’s interest in art.
All it takes is for us to show an interest in our child’s drawings, such as asking questions about what they are drawing, and allowing them to share their stories and interpretation. Also, we don’t have to force them to do art at any particular time if they don’t feel like it. Just follow their cue, and when they are in the mood to draw, be there to encourage them along. Really, that’s all there is to it.
Allow your child to enjoy the creative process, and refrain from judging the outcome.
For pre-primary school children, Rebecca advises parents not to worry too much about them learning proper drawing/art techniques. Just give them the tools and materials and let their creativity and imagination run loose!
Also, don’t pronounce a judgment on the end result, e.g., by saying it was a lovely drawing, or that it wasn’t. Instead, focus on the process, such as “watch how the colours change as you mix them together”, or simply ask your child open-ended questions about what he/she is drawing.
Confused? Just check out the difference between process-focused versus product-focused artwork here, and you’ll see it.
How do you encourage your child’s interest in all things artistic? Please share your ideas too, so we can all learn and grow!