Do you remember a time when you’d have your paper and crayons spread across the kitchen table and say “tell me something to draw, Mom!” After she answered, you’d feverishly draw the best rainbow, puppy dog or bunny you’ve ever drawn. You'd race over to the fridge, pass your Mom a magnet and ask for it to be displayed with the other 37 rainbows, puppy dogs and bunnies. Both my daughters are the same - our fridge is overflowing with drawings, and most of the time, our magnets are not strong enough to hold everything up!
Or maybe you remember Saturday morning art classes. I sure do! My mom would drop me off at the door, and I'd spend two quiet hours painting, drawing and doing pottery.
These days, many kids aren’t naturally drawn to traditional art mediums - unless a paintbrush or marker is their finger tip and their paper or canvas is a digital screen. The iPad is a marvelous invention, but can sometimes prohibit the development of artistic skills.
There are some pretty advanced artistic apps out there that can make a child feel like a Picasso! Parents of kids as young as two can believe they’re painting at an advanced level because the parameters of the app are set for them. You can go off the page and not make a mess, you can erase anything you don’t like, and you can change the colours of your work if you think purple fits best when you originally chose red.
But when I sit my girls down with paper and paint, I'm amazed at what comes out on the page. Getting our kids to explore the unpredictability of natural art is freeing. The permanence of a choice (e.g. "should I choose this red paint, or the blue?) makes kids stretch their thinking – they can build a piece that they’re committed to, not one that they can just “delete”.
There will always be a place for a digital footprint, and I encourage my daughter's to explore digital art mediums as well. But if I go back to my childhood and those Saturday morning art classes, I can remember where my creativity took shape – from my heart, my ideas, and my beliefs - and not from a device.
If you’re looking for a way to encourage your child to get back to "creative grassroots", the Nepean Visual Arts Centre and Nepean Creative Arts Centre here in Ottawa offer a healthy variety of beginner through to advanced classes to help get you started. They also have some fantastic parent and child workshops, which I'm hoping to check out this spring! Request a copy of their programming guide when you visit them online!
Does your child attend art classes?