Wednesday, April 3, 2013

A rant from your child's art teacher....

Okay, so I have a little rant..  it's about kids, creativity and the parent's role in this process.

You see, I have learned over the years that I grew up in an unusual house. Actually I've ALWAYS known that, but when living IN the house you don't get all of the strangeness... (digression..)

Anyway, in our house, there was always paint around and a craft project nearby. My parents are both super creative and fostered our creativity by showing us how to do artistic things, allowed us to make messes and taught us how to use materials appropriately.  I have learned that this is NOT the case in a lot of homes. When I went to college I was absolutely amazed that people didn't know how to paint without getting it all over themselves, the floor or the brush. I thought people just knew this!

Below is a picture of me at age 5 painting our "Rainbow Clubhouse." We had a carriage house type thing in the back yard and my parents let my older sister Libby (age 6 or 7) and me paint it. I'm sure my parents helped and supervised us, but what is awesome is that I don't remember their "interference" I remember it being a project that Libby and I did!

Now, jump ahead 30 years...  to me the art teacher. I am learning that the majority of my students do not have any foundation at all in art or artistic/creative ways. Ask a kid to measure, cut and paint something and you would think I had asked a kid to do surgery on something!

Yes, I know that students get the "basics" in elementary school, but really, I truly believe that kids should be cutting and painting and LEARNING to be CREATIVE at home!!  Kylie at age 3 has scissors. I am well aware that she will cut things that should not be cut. It's a calculated risk, and one I'm willing to take. Both Maddie and Lexi had scissors at this age and yes, we had issues, and millions of teeny tiny pieces of paper all over the house. But it was worth it, and is worth it. Otherwise she  might end up like the elementary kids that I see/know that cut themselves with safety scissors every time they use them because they aren't allowed to cut things at home.

So what got me all riled up? Pinterest!! Lately I have seen all of these "kid-friendly" not real art projects with not real art supplies. Yes, at least parents are getting ideas on how to be creative. But c'mon! Don't expect your child to know how to use a paint brush and paint if you make cornstarch (or shaving cream or pudding...) "paint" and have them use a squeeze bottle to make their crafts. For one, the squeeze bottle teaches nothing about hand-eye coordination, nor about moderation, nor about how to only use a little paint or brush strokes....  Another thing, what if you child makes and awesome painting?? I hope you take a good picture, cause the "paint" is NOT paint and won't last. You have taught your child that artistry doesn't matter cause you are just going to wipe it off, wash it off and throw it away! I'm not saying you can't play and finger paint, but there is a time and place for everything.

Student grade or craft grade art supplies are not expensive. Please, purchase some basic watercolor/tempera/acrylic paints and allow your child to create with paint and a paintbrush! Teach your child to only dip the tip of the paint brush in the paint and SHOW your child how to keep the paint on the paper or the brush and then how to wash the brush! If you don't know how to do these thing, I'm sure there is a you tube video. Then, put the "painting" up to dry and then have your child sign the piece. While it may not be a "work of art" you will be thankful for the picture one day.

While there are lots of things I am really, really NOT good at as a mom. I can thankfully say that my kids get to be creative and they make art projects. Here is a nice reminder of  how quickly kids grow up!! The picture on the left looks like Kylie, but it's Lexi!! 

Lexi in 2009

Lexi in 2013
So, here is my challenge to you. Go paint! Create something. And virtual painting via a Wii game or computer software  DOES NOT COUNT! While computer generated art is fun and a growing field, you don't learn how to control the amount of paint on a paint brush with a virtual paintbrush. You will never learn moderation if all you have to do is hit undo. You will never experience the thrill of creating if you don't get personally invested in the creating. Please note, I did not say you have to paint something wonderful. In fact, don't try to paint something "classical" like a portrait or a still life. Just paint.

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