Drawing is a way of self-expression, storytelling, and a natural way of working out your ideas through the creative process. But for complete beginners, it can be difficult to control a pencil, let alone express ideas without feeling frustrated. Here are my top 5 tips for parents who are looking to prepare their children for success in visual art and creative expression!
1 - Practice Pencil Pressure
All kids struggle with pressing too hard in the beginning, and then being unable to erase their mistakes adds to their frustration. Teaching kids when to press lightly and when to use more pressure can make all the difference in drawing and colouring. A great art teacher will show kids how to properly hold a pencil and utilize pencil pressure to have better control of their values in line art, shading, and colouring.
2 - Keep a Good Posture
I see lots of kids hunched over their drawings, almost hiding it from view or looking at it from a few inches away. I’ve even seen kids draw with their heads on the table too! Sitting with a straight back and being arm’s distance away from your drawing is really important -- not just for good eye and spinal health but also to prevent the artwork from distortion. Looking at an artwork too closely creates “tunnel vision,” which makes it hard to draw accurate proportions.
3 - Have an Open Mind
Creating is all about being open to new ideas and possibilities. Adults will say the sky is blue, but children feel no need to explain why they coloured their sky pink or orange. However, finding a balance is key. Teaching kids to listen and respect other people’s opinions about their artwork will help them respond to feedback with curiosity instead of defensiveness. Art is subjective, meaning that everyone is entitled to their opinion. This habit will not only pave the way for better teamwork in the future, it will help kids progress and improve much faster. Children are naturally born with open minds and the curiosity to explore new ideas and possibilities, so all we need to do as parents and educators is to keep that bridge of communication and discussion open.
4 - Appreciate Art
Art isn’t just something that looks pretty. It’s a visual language that helps people understand and connect to the world around them. Art is essential to humanity, especially to children and youth. Visiting museums, galleries, or taking classes where kids are exposed to different art styles, mediums, and trends will help them learn how art provides value to society. Art appreciation can also build compassion, social skills, and a better design sensibility.
5 - Create Freely
One of the most frequently asked questions I hear from parents is “What should a beginner start drawing?” Children have the innate ability to draw from their heart, but this isn’t always what looks like “real art.” Do not try to force children to draw realistically when they aren’t ready or interested -- this will only discourage them from creating. Creativity at home should be uninhibited but supported. Let kids use drawing as a way of telling stories or expressing their thoughts!
As a parent, you can always make suggestions on subject matter, but it’s best to let kids draw anything they want, while you observe and support. By just observing, you’ll discover what they choose to draw, and watch their interests and thought processes unfold! When a child eventually asks “how do I draw a ----?” That's when they’re ready to learn some techniques or take an art class!
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