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.

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