Friday, March 30, 2012

How to Teach Your Child to See Like an Artist

Have you ever asked a child to draw you a house?  We have all seen the stereotypical square with two windows and the triangle roof.  Add a door, maybe some steps and there you have it, a house, drawn by a child.  A little uninspired maybe, and why is this?  Children are, if you think about it, not particularly interested in 'house design'.  Have you ever asked a child to draw you their favorite toy.  Here you will see something a little more original, a little more detailed.  A child cares about their favorite toy.  As adults we can show children how to see in a way that will help them forge a relationship with the subject matter, exploring and therefore remembering the experience.

Zephyr Art is based upon nurturing creativity in children.  When we were younger artists we often offered classes and workshops.  We began by teaching drawing lessons and quickly realized (and have since learned that scientific research supports this) children need to nurture their creativity far more than they need to be taught technical artistic skills.

"Who has ever seen a tree?" We would ask.  Ha, they had all seen a tree.

"Can you draw one for us?" We would ask.  Well, of course they could.

The children would draw trees and we would all look at them together.  They did a beautiful job of drawing smooth straight tree trunks with branches jutting out, perpendicular from the main stems.  Some children drew circular leaves and some left bare sticks but they were all very much alike.  We set the drawings down and grabbed their hands.  We would go outside and play in the trees!  We ran to the trees and felt their rough bark, ran our hands up to where the branches burst out of the tree trunks in upward angles, rolled the silky smooth leaves through our fingers and noticed how nice it was in the darkness of their shade.  We would explore the trees for a while and then go back inside.  We asked for tree sketches a second time.  Suddenly we were presented with original drawings.  Some trees had shade scribbled at their bases, all had bark. Many of them sported knots or imperfections in the trunks. All the trees had leaves and the leaves had jagged edges and veins.  One child drew insects climbing up into the branches. The point is, we showed the children how to really see the trees.  We demonstrated that if they observed something with more than just their eyes, really tried to experience it, they could later recall things about it that they wouldn't have remembered otherwise.

Children should be taught to see this way, taught to observe closely.
We should all push each other to experience life, see a little clearer than we are naturally inclined.  Who knows?  Some day somebody might ask any one of us to draw a tree!

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