guiding young artists - the goals of art lessons

when teaching children how to paint, i always have to find the balance between giving instruction and allowing for freedom of expression, not stifling the child's creativity and compelling urge to explore possibilities.

during last week's lesson my student proudly announced that her horse is going to have a big smile (the dark gray paint already generously applied to the paint brush and the hand moving swiftly and unstoppably toward the canvas). as much as i wanted to shout out "no, don't do it!", i wanted to restrain myself from influencing her. having added the huge smile onto the horse's face, she looked at me, grinned, and said "he's smiling at me". that was so precious!

a white horse standing in a field of yellow flowers with an adorable "big ol' grin" on his face
by my sweet 7-year old art student

besides many other related benefits to art lessons at an early age,
here are some of the goals i keep in mind for my young students:

•  developing an eye for seeing and reproducing simple as well as complex shapes
•  furthering creativity and imagination
•  learning about colors, for instance how to mix or layer them
•  exploring a variety of techniques to open up new horizons
•  acquiring fine motor skills
•  getting proficient in selecting and using tools, in specific different styles of paint brushes
•  feeling the satisfaction of completing artwork and getting recognition for the accomplishment
•  lengthening the attention span by trying to stay focused on the task while taking appropriate breaks
•  discovering how a little patience & persistence can go a long way by learning step by step and not rushing through a project, also understanding that a project may consist of several steps that may take more than one sitting to complete
•  realizing that the clean-up in the end is part of the entire process

part of the learning process is trying out new techniques 
such as dabbing the wet paint with tissue. 
letting the students take their time to discover how different paint strokes 
effect the painting is vital as well.

whatever methods you may use to nurture your young artist's creativity, don't hesitate to give a little guidance here and there.
just as a poet benefits from learning how to speak, read and then write:
art instruction – when given in a positive, encouraging environment – builds skills that will enhance even the ability of very young ones to express themselves through visual art.

do you have any plans of exploring new creative adventures with the young artists in your life?


Anonymous said...

How amazing. That's really amazing and so nice guidelinies for the young children:-)

Anonymous said...

This painting is just as lovely as any I've seen. I think it's great that you're encouraging artistic talent, and it's bound to turn into a love of art when you encourage expression above perfection =)

sylvia said...

i love this post!! wish spencer could have art lessons from you one day :))

Kelly @ Polkadot Lane said...

Some fantastic guidelines there, Simona. All things I should try and remember when painting with my kidlets..I'm always itching to step in, when I really need to step back and let them learn. Thanks for sharing!

KatEzat said...

OH! I found this post so interesting


I love teaching kids. None of my own yet, but one of my best experiences of teaching English was with two little French 4 year old girls. I had great fun with those naughtly little things!

Gina @ Oaxacaborn said...

What a great post. I know that Aveline will grow up with art all around her, since both Josiah and I love to be creative -- there are always paints and art supplies out in our house!

"discovering how a little patience & persistence can go a long way by learning step by step and not rushing through a project, also understanding that a project may consist of several steps that may take more than one sitting to complete" --> I think I am still learning this one!! :)

Melissa said...

LOVE the horse! My mom used to teach art and she often said that she didn't know who learned more...her or her students.

Ellen said...

These are good tips even for slightly older children too. I find it difficult at times to restrain myself too - it's so easy to show them something but really it ends up you doing it for them. That works sometimes, but not as a pattern or rule.

Marianne said...

I love that grinning horse. The little artist must be sooo proud to look at it on the wall! Very sweet of you to be such a considerate, yet firm, teacher.
I loved the time I could do handicraft with my daughters , although I am not very talented, which they fortunately didn't realize when they were little ;) - and when working at playschool with foreign kids.

Chrissy said...

What a lovely post! And so inspiring as I am just beginning to spread my wings towards a teaching life. Meeting each child face to face, eye to eye, changes me every time I have the gift of exploring with them. Thank you for this:) XO

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