Do you remember creating art as a child?
Do you remember how proud you were of it and how good you felt it was?
Do you remember getting praise or criticism for it?
As a child I was very shy and insecure (and still am sometimes) but the one thing that I wasn’t insecure about was my art. My mother painted, sketched and did handcrafts so I did, too. When I was given colouring in books I copied the images as well as colouring them in. I made tiny sheets for tiny dolls that slept in empty match boxes. I was the one that was asked to do drawings of Santa Claus as a decoration on the blackboard in school. (No digital stuff or whiteboards then!) I also remember vividly being complimented at the age of about 7 or 8 on my embroidery skills by Miss Moody, our lovely school headmistress. She said that she couldn’t believe how straight and neat my lines of stitching were. All of this encouraged me to continue and to practice and refine my skills.
I read an interesting article recently that pointed out how this confidence in children somehow dissipates at around the age of 12 or 13 and we often don’t get it back again. Very few artists or art lovers have confidence in their ability. We feel that we aren’t good enough and we certainly aren’t as good as the next artist down the line! How do we lose this confidence? How can we stop our children and grandchildren from losing theirs?
A couple of months ago some of my close friends and I spent the weekend in Brisbane. We have been friends forever and our children have grown up together. One couple had recently moved to Brisbane to be with their daughter and her family. It was a great chance to catch up, see their new house, and have a general get-together. On the Saturday night their daughter and her family came over to dinner. Her sons are 4 and 2yrs old and are simply gorgeous. Eli, the 4yr old, is a little shy these days and I sat down with him to sketch. We had a piece of paper to share and we decided that he should try drawing a portrait of his father. The concentration in Eli’s face was wonderful. He really wanted to do a good job and he certainly did. He was seriously proud of his effort and happy for me to take his photo with it. Mark, a long-term friend who has been a volunteer for Camp Quality for over 25years, came over to join in and showed Eli some lovely tricks on how to draw funny elephants, images that started out as one thing and ended up as others, and stories that went along with the drawings. Eli was fascinated. He really seemed to enjoy the adult interaction and forgot his shyness. The three of us had a wonderful time.
The importance of showing children how much you appreciate their work never diminishes. It will always be important to them. It will help them with their confidence and give them skills for a lifetime. Remember that embroidery that my childhood headmistress praised? When my mother passed away very suddenly it was, of course, a hugely stressful time. I had to organize family from interstate and look after a father who was expecting to have heart surgery within a few weeks. I also had an injury of my own but couldn’t think of myself because there was so much to do. The day of the funeral I started looking through drawers in my parents’ house to get ready for the wake and there it was – that piece of embroidery. My mother had kept it for almost 50yrs. That was when I finally had a good cry. It meant so much to me and now I have it back again.
Remember to praise the children in your life. Remember to spend time with them and do arts and crafts with them. You don’t have to be good at it yourself. They will know in their hearts and minds that you are good. The time is the important part and the encouragement. We learn to be critical of ourselves as we get older. Let them be happy with their accomplishments for as long as possible and they will thank you for it.
Do you have any similar stories? Do you have suggestions on things to do with children? Please comment so that we can all learn.
Jill Kerttula says
Beautiful story. Yes. I have my own story. When I was in kindergarten, my teacher put one of my pictures in a display in the hallway of the school. It was a picture of a moose. In my head (and memory) it was a perfect representation. I would love to see it again! That validation way huge. probably one of my earliest and still-held memories.
In early High School one of my friend’s parents asked if they could purchase a lino print of mine. I was astounded. The thought that someone thought so highly of my work that they would pay money for it was amazing to me. Beyond that, they were academics and a family that lived life in a very different circle than my family. They knew art and literature, we didn’t. It was then that I realized that maybe I was on to something !
I was lucky to have more mentors through high school, and parents, who while they might not have appreciated art in general, were supportive of my art. I thank all of them frequently.
Julie-Anne Rogers says
It really matters to get that validation and appreciation, doesn’t it Jill. Just imagine if you hadn’t received it. You may never have had enough confidence to follow the path that you have.
Christine Jackson says
How lovely to write glowingly of Eli artistic ability. He has wonderful ability for a child of his age. When using a standard colouring book he colours in purposely not going outside the lines and uses the correct colours for what ever he is colouring. I thought he was very good for his age but I am only Nanna who always thinks the grandchildren are wonderful. So pleased to think you agree with me. I have also seen some of his drawings compared with children of the same age at day care and there is just no comparison.
I will tell Ashley and Adam about your article so they can also have a look at it.
Love from a very proud Nanna,
Julie-Anne Rogers says
I really enjoyed spending the time with him Chris and seeing his concentration and effort. He really reminded me of myself. He may or may not follow that road in life but art and creativity help in so much in life, as well as helping in the ability to think outside the box. He has the talent and interest. Keep praising and encouraging him!
Julie Keech says
I am one of six children and my mother was the inspiration for my art.
She was a dressmaker and we were always encouraged to do art and craft.
My early drawings were also encouraged by my first grade teacher who allowed me to draw miniature characters creating a story across the bottom of my school book pages.
My mother taught me to knit and in education week we had to bring in something we had made so I bought in a whole knitted dolls outfit. I remember the teacher thinking that my mother had made this, but of course she hadn’t.
There were always scraps of fabrics at home to make collages and dolls clothes.
As a teacher I had the opportunity to inspire and encourage children with their art.
In this age of technology art is so important to allow children to develop their creativity, to relax and let their minds go beyond the screens to foster imagination and happiness.
Many children plateau at about grade three as they are scared to not make art perfect.
I have always encouraged “happy accidents “ and currently I’m lucky to have my grandchildren drawing and creating at every opportunity.
Julie-Anne Rogers says
Isn’t it wonderful that parents can encourage children and affect their future. We just have to make sure that we don’t stifle it.