Friday, 15 February 2019

Is My Child Talented?

I did this coloured pencil drawing when I was 13.   

Blog 7

From time to time, a parent asks me whether her daughter or son is talented. I hate to answer this question, especially when I have only know the child for the duration of a ten-week course.

I hardly ever answer the question directly. It is so much more important that the children have fun and express their ideas than whether they do it in a highly skilled way. I encourage them to use their imagination and to be proud of what they are creating. In today’s society, we are so focused on competition. There are hardly any hobbies where children can just enjoy the action without being pushed into a competitive direction. We want our children to excel, to be the best.

Sadly, this leads often to frustration and loss of joy. I have more and more young children in my courses that are already so afraid to make mistakes that they are “paralyzed”. They are so used to the adults’ expectations of excelling in their works that they are afraid to express themselves. Picking colours for their painting or drawing can already be stressful for them. They want a step by step guide to avoid making mistakes.

I painted theses houses when I was 11.

In my classes, I try to guide the students and make suggestions when they get stuck. Sometimes, art is a struggle. It is supposed to be fun, but not every artwork will work out the way we had envisioned. It is important for children to learn that it takes practice and curiosity to try different materials and techniques. Creating art is about the process, not the result. It is a time to explore and learn about your world. I want my students to observe what is around them and not just accept that certain things have a specific colour. Just look at the colour of snow when the sun is setting. It changes colours with the change of light. Artists can take your liberty at changing colours to your liking to create a certain mood.

I want the students to feel proud of what they are creating. Art is such a wonderful way to build confidence and to express yourself. I am happy when the children create unique artworks and I encourage them to present them to the class so that they can tell their story. Unfortunately, I have heard so many stories from adults who stopped creating art because of a harsh word from a teacher or adult. That’s such a shame! Art is such a wonderful way to relax and express yourself. Your art should be as unique as yourself. Art is subjective and I do not want the children to compare each other’s artworks, except when we are talking about what effect the different use of colour has when creating a certain character or scene, and how it makes them feel.

If you would like to help your children to increase their creativity, here are some suggestions:

  • Provide art materials that are easily accessible, if possible even an art corner in an area of your house.
  • Bring a drawing pad for them when you leave the house. There are so many opportunities to bridge the time sketching, and it is so much better for your child’s development than playing games on a phone or tablet.
  • Encourage your child to use different materials.
  • Visit art museums with them so they are exposed to different types of art.
  • Let them enjoy the process of creating instead of focusing on the final result This is very hard for many adults because we often have the final result in mind.
  • Emphasize that their art is as unique as they are. It is not a competition. Speed and quantity are not important. You need practice and persistence to get better like in any other skill.
  • Guide them but do not tell them how something should look. It is important that they experiment and use their own imagination.

If your child is artistically talented, (s)he will continue to make art and will improve the skills through practice. Creating art is a lifelong gift that helps your child to relax, find new solutions and energy, and make friends. Therefore, before you push your child to become the next master, make sure they love their art so much that they are self-motivated to create art and do not need incentives. Once they are ready for more instruction, it is still up to them to grow because more than talent, persistence will define how far an artist will go.

Friday, 8 February 2019

Is My Child Old Enough for an Art Class?

Blog 6

In my almost 10 years of teaching art to children, I have often been asked the question “Is my child old enough for an art class?”. This is not a question that can be answered by giving the parents a specific age, as age is not as important as the interest in creating art. You cannot force someone to create art, but you rather encourage them to try out different materials to express their ideas and feelings.

Children are ready for an art class when they are eager to express themselves and let their imagination run free. It is not important if the teacher and the parents can “read” their pictures. For me, a sign that they are ready is rather that they are excited about the class and so immersed in their art that they do not care about the time passing. They can hardly stop at the end of the class. I will never forget the little boy that was in one of my first classes. His dad wanted him to pack up because the class was over and his answer was that he was not finished because his painting still needed a certain blue. His answer still makes me happy.

In my classes, I teach kids that are between 5 and 12 years old. I have young kids that are more focused on creating their images than older kids. I find it sad if a child cannot “finish” an artwork fast enough and is then refusing to work on anything else or to try anything new. I am not talking about finishing the artwork in a way I would as an adult. This is something that is hard to understand for many parents. Sometimes, they look at their kid’s work and compare it to the image I drew onto the whiteboard. Then, they ask me worriedly if their son or daughter is following well in class. Creating art is not about staying in the lines and carefully colouring shapes. While I try to show the children how to create the basic character or object, I encourage them to make it their own by changing features and colours and then making it part of any story of their choice. If they are excited about their artwork, this energy is visible. While older children often have better technical skills, often the artworks of the younger children are more raw and powerful in their expression.

Creating art is about the process, not the result. Even as an adult, concentrating on the result will take out the joy from creating art. Sometimes, you are not happy at all with an artwork but you still had lots of fun. For a child, the joy of creating should be the most important aspect. It is a time to explore and learn about their world. I am happy when the children create unique artworks and I encourage them to present them to the class so that they can tell their story.

If you are not sure whether your children are interested in art, register them to a short session or an art camp before committing to a course that stretches over a couple of months. For more suggestions on how to boost your children’s creativity, please continue to follow the rest of my February blogs.

Friday, 1 February 2019

Creativity Challenge 2019 - Week 5

Blog 5

I had a busy week both on a personal level as well as at work. It started with a three day family reunion at our house, which made it challenging to fit some creative time into my life while entertaining. Nevertheless, I was able to squeeze in a couple of minutes both on Friday and Saturday.

Day 25: I used the time at the restaurant when I was waiting with my daughter for the arrival of the rest of the family to create a sketch of my daughter. I am not happy with the sketch but it was a good exercise. Later, I was even able to continue my temperature shawl. Now, I only need to knit the rows for the last 7 days of 2018.

Day 26: While the whole family was at the fabulous Museum of Nature in Ottawa, I managed to sit down for two quick sketches. One is of a water bird, while the other is of an interesting branch in one of the insect habitats.

Day 27: The Winter Sunset Painting Party was a lot of fun. I enjoyed guiding the participants to versions of the painting that bring out their uniqueness. After the event, I felt so energized that I created a heart-filled Valentine’s painting for the February painting party.

Day 28: In preparation for my next Cartooning and Drawing Class, I checked out the characters of the Lego Movie 2. The students had asked to draw a character from the movie. At the end, I picked the Apocalypseburg Unikitty. I also created one doodle for my mixed media class and two quick doodles of a snail and a cat which were fun to make even though they are not very sophisticated. It is important to play, especially when creating art!

Day 29: Tuesday was not my day; a lot of things went wrong. The snow caused additional delays and inconveniences. At the end, I only had time to demonstrate the drawing process for the students of my class.

Day 30: What a nice break after the messed-up day! I met with two of my friends for an hour of crafting. This gave me a chance to continue felting my cardinal.

Day 31: On this last day of the month, I continued felting my cardinal. He is definitely going to be a big bird but I am excited to see how he will turn out.

It is already the last day of January! I managed to create something almost every day.
The accountability of the blog certainly was an extra encouragement. I will continue with my daily creative time but will also add some different content to my blog. For upcoming events please check my website I have decided that 2019 will be all about fun and spending time with old and new friends. I hope that my workshops and painting parties will help you to improve your skills and create new relationships.

Friday, 25 January 2019

Creativity Challenge 2019 - Week 4

Blog 4

With the current cold weather in the Ottawa region, it is easy to focus on inside activities. Unfortunately, sometimes even these activities are affected by winter weather: I had to postpone last Sunday’s painting party by a week as it would not have been safe for the participants to come out for the fun. Even though I was disappointed at first because everything was already set up for the event, I have something to look forward to for this upcoming Sunday.

Have you started some new projects or continued projects that you started ages ago and want to finish this year? I am sure that most of us have some unfinished projects that are waiting to be picked up and either discarded because we lost interest in them, recycled in a new project, or finally finished. I worked on one of mine as you can see in the following day to day list of the past week’s projects:

Day 18: After a busy week, I did not have any energy to sit down to draw, paint, or even felt. This does not mean, however, that I sat on the sofa without doing anything. I picked up last year’s temperature shawl and started knitting. During the second half of last year, there were a couple of weeks when I fell behind with knitting two rows per day. Please see the photo for day 22 and 23.

Day 19: After attending a professional development day from work, I enjoyed an evening with my family watching TV. As I am really eager to finish my temperature shawl soon, I knitted for a couple of hours. Right now, I have finally caught up until the beginning of December.

Day 20: Instead of painting a winter sunset during the above mentioned painting party, I spent a couple of hours drawing a self portrait with coloured pencils. When I had been looking for ideas for my mixed media projects, I came across the excellent book “Van Gogh and the Post-Impressionists for Kids” by Carol Sabbeth. One of the suggested activities is related to van Gogh’s painting “Portrait of Père Tanguy”. The background is covered with little paintings inside of the painting that frame Tanguy’s portrait. The suggested activity was to create a portrait that would be glued onto a background covered in images from magazines. At first, I just wanted to create a simple demo image with coloured pencils but once I got started with the portrait, I forgot all about the initial intent. At the end, I took a photo that I printed and glued it on the background of magazine cut-outs because I liked the self-portrait too much to glue it on the picture collage.

Day 21: For my “Cartooning & Comics” classes I created a sketch of Spiderman. I always ask my student for input so that we draw characters that appeal to them and keep them engaged. This was one of the very few times that the students of both courses had asked for the same character.

Day 22: Tuesdays are my busy days as I teach a couple of German and art classes plus participate as a student in a French conversation group. Therefore, my creative energy was limited again to the step by step drawing of Spiderman that I created on the whiteboard during the art class.

Day 23: Even though I cancelled my drawing class due to the winter storm, I was busy with personal issues. When I finally sat down in the evening, I was tired. Nevertheless, I cannot sit down without keeping my hands busy. I had enough energy left for knitting. My temperature shawl is almost done. I am at December 15.

For every 5 degree change in temperature I pick a different colour. 

Day 24: I spent almost 6 hours finishing the August Macke inspired work of myself reading. The face was a major challenge. The 20” x 16” acrylic painting experienced quite a lot of changes in colours. This is more my colour palette, and I am happy with the result.

Are you looking for inspiration for new paintings? Maybe, you would like to try some new techniques. On February 13, 2019, we will be studying Gustav Klimt’s painting “The Kiss” to use simple forms and organic floral shapes to create a playful image of love. What could be a better workshop for the month of love! No experience is necessary. All materials are included in the registration fee. To register and for more information please go to my newly redesigned website