How can I encourage art at home?

The art projects kids do in school are not particularly creative. Some teachers distribute pre-cut figures to be decorated, or tell the whole class to make identical orange pumpkins or Mayflower ships. Students are given coloring book-type sheets and told to color them in neatly. Such work leaves little room for expression and creativity. If parents want their child to have fun doing original artwork, they usually have to encourage it at home.

They can begin by providing a variety of appealing art materials: clay, sculpting compounds, candle wax and beeswax, an assortment of pens, pencils, paints and markers, good quality paper, glue, scissors, popsicle sticks, small pieces of fabric and felt, wood chips, buttons, or glitter. These materials can be found at variety stores, hobby and art supply shops, and office supply stores.

If a child already has a preference for one medium, parents can provide appropriate materials. A child who enjoys painting can be offered a table easel and paints of different sorts, including watercolors, acrylics, oil, and tempera. Parents can try giving different sized brushes, paper, and canvas. The materials they buy should allow open-ended artwork. Coloring books, paint by number pictures, and pre-cut projects limits a child’s creativity. Parents who want to encourage their child’s free expression should avoid them.

A child will be tempted to try new art materials if they’re stored in an accessible place or set out in an appealing way. Parents can leave markers and paper on the kitchen table where she will see them and be tempted to start drawing. They can reserve an accessible shelf, box, or drawer for art materials. They can set aside space in the basement or elsewhere for large art projects and materials such as easels. She will feel she has a special place for her big cardboard sculptures and creations made out of straws, paper mache, or clay.

One of the best places for working on smaller projects is the kitchen, since it’s often the center of the home. While a child works, her parents can be nearby, ready to look at a new project or listen to her talk about her creation.

Some parents hesitate to encourage artwork at home because they fear a mess. However, table surfaces can be protected easily with newspaper or vinyl covers. A child can wear old clothes when she works, or cover her clothes with a smock. Also, parents can avoid presenting messy supplies such as paste and glue, instead offering an interesting selection of colored pencils, pens, and markers.

Parents shouldn’t make clean-up a major issue. A child may avoid artwork altogether if she knows she has to do a big clean-up when she’s done. Parents who aren’t willing to help their child with the job should provide materials that are easy to put away.

When your child is finished with an art project, compliment her work and avoid passing negative judgments. Since children’s art is often assigned and judged in school, let her work at home be enjoyable and free from criticism. She will be upset and discouraged to hear you say, “Straighter lines,” “Less paint,” “More trees.” Even if she asks for your advice, be gentle: “Do you want to add some flowers to the garden?” or, “Can you think of a way to add more color?”

Comment positively on her use of shape, design, and color. If you’re sure of the subject of a drawing, say, “What a beautiful bird,’ or, “That looks like a very fast car.” If you’re not sure, simply say, “Very nice, you spent a lot of time on that.” You also can ask her to tell you about the project: “Where did you get your idea?” “How did you swirl the colors together?” “Do you want to describe this picture for me?”

She may be very concerned about the success of her artwork. If a project doesn’t turn out as she’d planned, she may feel frustrated and disappointed. Try to encourage her and suggest ways her “mess up” can be turned into something else.

Sometimes a younger sibling will give up on art if she decides her older brother or sister is better than she. Don’t let this happen. Continue to provide materials, praise your child’s attempts, and don’t compare her to her siblings. Since most kids enjoy the sense of accomplishment finished artwork can bring, she will most likely continue creating as long as you provide materials and let her know you appreciate her work.

Finally, encourage her to do as much artwork as she likes. The more she draws, paints, and sculpts, the better she’ll become and the better she’ll feel about her creations.

Picture Credit : Google