Back To School What Kids Draw
Back to school, or should we say first day at school? There will be a lot of drawing, messy fingers from crayons and other colouring material. It will be a good idea to ask children what they drew, and not just say it is good. We might discover that they are unhappy, when we thought we gave them everything.
There is also art on the street, library, shopping malls or subways. Always take a moment and admire it. Your kids will also do it, and they will pick up some vocabulary like artist, colours, light, materials artists use and many more.
It is ironic that the great art masters are not people like the American painter Varnette Honeywood, Spanish artist Pablo Picasso or Dutch painter Rembrandt, but little kids because what they draw has a very simple equation.
What they see around them + how they feel = art.
Ironic because when they attend art classes, teachers will tell them to aspire to such masters and not express themselves the way they did in kindergarten.
What kids draw is not regarded as real art, but teething problems on canvas. No, not canvas. Even established painters seldom use it anymore.
The passion kids have for painting will be diluted by many theories they learn in art schools over the years and their work will only be recognized if it can be pigeon-holed.
The equation that made them produce great art when they were six tends to be totally incinerated. Art critics seldom appreciate art on its individual and original merit. They have to compare it to somebody else, preferably a celebrated artist.
The Globe and Mail, a national daily newspaper in Canada, shot this interesting video about kindergarten kids and what they see and feel.
Good Art is Individual Art
Social workers can pick up child and wife abuse from kids’ drawings. Teachers get to know kids’ favourite food, toys, pets and the whole family through what they draw.
I don’t know what art experts call this initial stage in art creation but it has a name. Everything does: realism art, Baroque art, classical art, neo-classical art, surreal art, contemporary art, avant garde, impressionist etc.
We cannot talk about art without mentioning colour. The use of colour in a painting is subjective. Many things influence the decision to use more of let’s say green, and less of blue.
Children in Haiti use colours that are absent from kids’ drawings in Nunavut, northern Canada, where temperatures can drop to -50 in some areas.
Art schools can nurture children by allowing them to use colour that will help them tell their story. Come to think of it, art is storytelling. If musicians can sing about being blue, being broke, being dumped or missing somebody, artists do the same in their paintings.
Art schools are not starting on a blank page because children draw at an early age: when they play with their food, drawing something on the sand or mess up mummy’s training manual she left on the table.
The greatest disservice to humanity would be for art schools to produce assembly line artists that produce identical art to prove that they went to art school. When art critics mention that an artist is self-taught, I never know whether it is a put-down or praise.
It can even be argued that self-taught artists produce better work because they have not lost the equation:
What they see around them + how they feel = art.
People who did not attend art school are in danger of being regarded as second class art citizens, who produce African, Native, Asian, Mexican or what is collectively known as tribal art.
It cannot be a term of endearment because the price tag is different. What is regarded as pure art is more expensive than tribal or folk art. Rich people invest in art not folk art.
The Smithsonian, Sotheby’s and Christie’s spend millions of pounds and dollars in insurance because they predominantly hold what is known as fine art.
These houses also exhibit art from outside Europe now, because of the economic and global reality. There used to be ’old money’. Now there is new money from Georgia in the U.S., India, Dubai, Hong Kong, Taiwan, all over the world and art auctions and museums attempt to reflect that diversity.
Some parents still stick their kids’ drawings on the refrigerator door. This is great encouragement for the kids because the fridge becomes their first exhibition.
- What might also help is to buy a file with pockets where parents can catalogue the artwork: when kids drew it and where it was drawn (in class, community picnic or grandparents’ house).
- This file will come in handy in future whether kids drop out of art classes or not. It will be interesting to see their reaction when they are teenagers. The art file will have more value if kids are hooked into drawing and even study it in high school.
- The photos on the fridge door are proof that parents support artistic kids. Another support mechanism for children who like to draw would be for parents to go to the art store and buy paint, brushes, paper and two easels.
- A big one for the parent and a small one for the child so that a parent and child can sit quietly and paint.