We often give our first born grandchild a lot of attention in the first years of life [...]
Brush strokes or key strokesCreated by Charlotte in Education
Which of these comes easiest to your little ones? A pound to penny it’s the latter. And that’s not surprising. What with huge number of iPads, iPhones, laptops and other electronic devices at home, and the fact that these little gadgets are interactive and addictive, it’s hardly surprising how proficient even very young children are with technology. And, it’s truly amazing how some apps enable children to draw and ‘paint’ on a screen with vibrant colour and no mess!
But I want to make a case for old fashioned brushes and paint. Because its only by experiencing the textures, range of colours and possibilities of big sheets of paper that a child can really begin to understand the pure tactile pleasure of making their own painting.
It’s probably best to start with an easel set up outside or on an easily moppable floor. Provide pots of ready mixed paint in bright colours and sheets of sugar paper or newsprint and just let them experiment. Most children begin with a ‘big head’ figure. As they mature they will add a body, arms, legs and features. And then, slowly they will produce other images. Mummy, daddy, family, animals and so on. It’s good to talk to the child about their painting and ask questions which will stimulate them to add features or details. Always say ‘Tell me about your picture’ never say ‘whatever is that?’. There is nothing sadder than the child who won’t draw or paint because they have acquired the idea that they can’t.
As the child gets older they will want to make their picture more representational and there are ways of providing opportunities for this without limiting the child’s vision.
Any artist will tell you that just looking is the start and finish of what artists do. Encourage the child to choose their subject carefully. It might be a simple pot plant on the table, or a a group of toothbrushes in a jar, or a collection of stones or shells, or the pattern on the wall or the cat’s tail or even one of the vegetables being chopped up for dinner. Take the time to position the subject really well, choose the medium – pencil, charcoal, pen and ink or paint. Decide on the colour palette and look, look, look. And make sure that the child has sufficient time to plan, draw and complete the picture. And make sure the materials are fit for purpose. The paper needs to be filled and that takes confidence as well, so lots of support and praise too.
Encourage the child to be properly critical of their work so that they can choose the pieces they are most pleased with, and then make sure that it’s been valued by the family by mounting and displaying their best work.
I still have a birthday card which my daughter made for me when she was eight. Her granny took her to the local woods and they picked some wood anemones. Then she spent a long time looking very, very carefully at the delicate little flowers and painted them in water colours. Even today, I’m astonished at the skill. But that skill was nurtured by giving her the opportunities and the time.
My next article will be about the Art curriculum in school, what to look for, and what questions to ask.
by Jane Lawson