How Can I Develop an Interest in Art in my Children?

Sometimes I come across learners who have started an art class to help their children to draw and paint.  Often grandparents who recognise that their grandchildren have an interest in art and want to nurture this.

They often tell me how when they spend time with grandchildren they do arty things.  These learners usually want more ideas of what to do creatively to develop an interest in art in the children.  Sometimes they wish to learn to draw so they can pass on the skills to their children.  These are my thoughts on the topic.

All Children Have An Interest in Art

Although there are definitely some children who have more of a natural interest in picking up pencils and paint, I don’t think there is a young child who isn’t interested in making marks.  This is a natural form of expression so it is more about allowing time and space for this exploration to be developed and continue.

Having Materials and Space 

One of the things that can stop children developing an interest in art is parents who don’t allow an area for children to be creative.  I have a friend who loved art as a child but her mum was an obsessively tidy housewife who didn’t allow her to ‘make a mess’.  By the age of 14 she had pretty much stopped doing art.

Allow Them to Create for Themselves 

I remember playing with cardboard boxes a lot as a child.  I made a doll’s house for my Cindy dolls because it was too expensive for my parents to buy one.  I had to learn how to construct it out of cardboard and I drew the wallpaper patterns, the whole project engrossed me for months and developed my love of art.

These days children tend to have ready-made kits from shops so they tend to play with the ‘raw materials’ less.  If you give children paper, glue and cardboard boxes it is amazing what they can teach themselves about the materials.  It fosters their imaginations because there is no ‘one I made earlier’ picture to go by, they have to imagine it.

Allow your children to experiment with materials of all types

What You Can Do to Help?

Having an interest in art yourself will of course help your child become interested in drawing and painting.  Allow them to try out your paints and pencils and most will love getting involved and sharing the interest with you.

Drawing is a great activity to do with children and it develops their observational skills.  Children today have very short attention spans so for them to sit and draw and learn how to observe is a really useful skill not only for art but generally to develop their concentration skills.

Provide the 'raw materials' - paint, paper, card and let them experiment
Provide the ‘raw materials’ – paint, paper, card and let them experiment

What Not to Do

The worse thing to say to a child is ‘I can’t draw either’.  Explain to your children that practice is important if they get frustrated. It is not about getting things perfect, it is more the encouragement to give things a go and keep trying.

Should I Show my Child How to Draw?

I have heard different views on this from art teachers, there are some who believe very strongly that you should never draw for a child.  I don’t see the problem, but perhaps rather than draw for them you might encourage them to pick out the shapes of the object.  Encourage them to look at the outlines, textures and shapes.

You could then ask them to re-look at a curve or edge and adjust it for themselves rather than correcting it for them.  This is much of what a good art tutor will do, the problem with correcting others work is that they haven’t learnt for themselves.  A good analogy is telling someone how to spell something rather than them looking it up in the dictionary themselves.

How can I get my children interested in art?
How can I get my children interested in art?

Will Me Learning Art Help?

Yes it will because you will be going through the process of learning how to observe, judge, measure etc. which you can pass onto your children.  Once you understand how to break an object into shapes, use guidelines, understand angles, composition and all the other things involved in drawing you can pass this on.

These skills are what I call the ‘nuts and bolts’ of drawing and they provide a really sound foundation for developing skills.   Many go through school without being told these fundamental skills so if you can go on an art course that goes through these things you will be passing on valuable knowledge to your children.

How do you get  your children interested in art?  Do you do art with your children?  Share your thoughts below…


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