“According to an IBM survey of 1,500 CEOs, creativity is now considered to be the most valuable trait for managers." - parents.com
My mom taught me that art could be made out of anything. She didn’t have the money for supplies, but she did have imagination and ingenuity. She wallpapered her bedroom with black and white pages from the New Yorker magazine, turned a chicken coop into a playhouse, and sewed a 6 foot teddy bear using discarded clothing for fabric and stuffing from garage sale pillows. It helped that it was the Sixties and artistic expression was encouraged.
Back then my parents were renting an old house. When I say old, I mean really old – the house was over 150 years old. The it creaked and groaned in the wind, drafts snuck in through every window and door, and the dark, dirt floored basement was rumored to have been used as part of the Underground Railroad. They closed off the upstairs in the winter, because they could not afford to heat it. There were rooms up there we never used.
One sunny summer day my mom ushered my sisters and me into one of those deserted second floor bedrooms. She had covered the floor with drop clothes and placed a table in the center. On the table were open cans of paint in various colors, brushes large and small, coffee cans, and rags. She announced that she had found the paint out in the shed, and we could paint whatever we wanted. I was thrilled with the chance to create with no rules or guidelines. My imagination went wild. I grabbed a brush and dipped it into the brightest paint available.
I filled my wall with fluffy white clouds, airplanes that resembled birds or possibly birds that resembled airplanes, and trees that looks like bushy lollipops. I ended up with sky blue paint in my hair and green hands. I still have a photograph of that wall and am intrigued and pleased with my unique vision of the world that my mom helped me to capture. She acted as more of a positive instigator rather than a manager by simply provided the tools for me to create.
We only found out afterwards that some of the paint was oil based rather than water based. My dad used rags soaked in gasoline to scrub the stubborn paint off our little hands. Sometimes there is a price to be paid for such freedom. It was still worth it.
I urge you to provide these types of opportunities for your kids – though maybe not on such a grand scale. “Creativity helps kids be more confident, develop social skills, and learn better,” according to an article in World of Psychology. Need some statistics to help convince you? “Creativity tests given to elementary-school students in the 1950’s were three times better than IQ tests at predicting adult achievements more than 30 years later”, according to Jonathan Plucker, Ph.D., professor of educational psychology at the University of Connecticut's Neag School of Education.
Often art classes for children are more focused on directing children to create a finished product to please the parents that are paying for the classes rather than allowing children to use their imaginations to create a unique interpretation. Parents have a strong desire for their kids to produce recognizable, accurately represented objects, but we should not praise this type of work while ignoring the value of imaginative interpretation.
Green birds, planes with heads and faces, and people with 6 arms are not wrong; just a sign of creativity. I urge you to let your child experiment with colors and brushstrokes in whatever way they feel. Don’t thwart their creativity with too much instruction. Don’t even let me get started on how our creativity has been crippled by the time we are adults. Give most of us a blank canvas, paint, and the freedom to paint with no direction, and we are basically paralyzed with fear. This lack of artistic confidence is often rooted in childhood and negative remarks about creative expression. Find tips on encouraging creativity in this article, “9 Ways to Support Your Child’s Creativity”, including providing a space dedicated to creating and avoiding managing your child’s artistic activities.
Another option is to let me provide all of the supplies and the space for your kids to create. I am offering Sociable Art Family Creative Hours for only $15 on Saturday, February 10 and Saturday, March 17 from 10-11am at The Wake Zone Espresso in Apex and an also an opportunity to create Valentines for free on Sunday, February 11 from 12-4pm. at The Downtown Cary Food & Flea. The family creative hours are a great low cost option for kids of all ages to explore their artistic side and create a work of art that they will remember fondly as an adult or a gift to grandma and grandpa. It is also a fantastic opportunity for adults to play around with paint without the usual investment and pressure to create a “perfect” work of art. Registration information can be found here - just scroll down to the appropriate event.
Thanks for reading,