Like many people, I can't draw for nuts, yet it has always been something I wished I could do. Is that what makes me especially appreciate lovely visuals when I see them? I love to browse in art galleries, cartoon books, graphic design blogs and children's illustrator websites. And I know I'm obsessed with technology and image creation. Somehow, I suspect that's because I hope one day someone will invent an application that lets me create drawings I can be proud of.
I think it's also because I love to play. Yes, I know I dress it up by calling it creativity, but at core, I am playing with colour, pattern, shapes and lines. I fiddle a little here, tweak a tad there, and satisfy my instinct to make art. Even when that art is scribbled yellow stick figures on a blue background. Inside my head, a happy voice is asking, "What will happen if I change that bit?" and "Does that colour please me against the blue?" My adult head recognizes that my scribbles are nothing like what artists produce, but my childish heart ignores that and has fun anyway.
I don't have any formal training in Art, though perhaps you worked that out already? Instead, I pick up bits and pieces as I roam cyberspace and real world galleries. I look at a picture or sculpture and react to it viscerally, and perhaps emotionally. Then I ask myself questions about it:
- What do I like about it?
- How does it make me feel?
- What would I change about it?
- What was the artist trying to achieve?
- How did they create this picture?
- Does it tell a story/have a message?
- What is it?
- How will I react to this artwork?
This last question might elicit a response that leads me to create something of my own - more play!
Perhaps even those of us without training can encourage an appreciation of art in our kids, and support their natural curiosity and desire to experiment. I suggest we could do this by practical means - setting aside a place where mess is okay, assembling different materials for art play - and philosophically - sharing our own interest in artistic endeavours and asking our kids questions that encourage creative thinking. I think we need to make sure kids experience a wide range of media, while emphasizing the "it's okay to play and have fun" message.
My friend Jeanne at A Peaceful Day has some wonderful, practical ideas for getting the most out of a trip to the art gallery with a child. Our aim she says, should be to "... share the joy of art with your children." If it's getting started with art making you need tips on, Art Junction has ideas that might spark art in your family.
How about you? I'd love to read your ideas. Do you have an art heart too? What do you do to nurture it? How can we nurture art hearts in our kids? And is that important?