Kids Art Lessons
As an art educator with nearly a decade of experience at the university level I was dismayed to see the quality of many of the courses and lessons available online . Over the years I’ve had numerous parents ask me if anything for children was available, and while I wanted to make something especially with kids in mind there was always a problem. I didn’t have any access to kids. 🙂 I did take Elementary Art classes during my studies, which required me to create a course for 5th graders. But I still didn’t feel I really knew how kids thought. Thankfully with the addition of my awesome daughter I was lucky enough to have a child with a strong interest in the arts. Perhaps due to the fact that she’s grown up surrounded by paintings since both of her parents are painters. Nonetheless she has been a pleasure to “teach”, or I could better say, that she is a great collaborator on many painting and drawing projects.
The following lessons are based upon my own studies into the subject, and implementing them individually with my daughter. For this reason, I have no idea if they’d work well in a class format where multiple students would have to follow the same lesson. I know, from my limited studies into Elementary Art that it is a big subject that encompasses a multitude of disciplines. Children have changes in their cognition, and reach milestones at different times which can make teaching a drawing or painting class to younger students quite difficult. There’s also the psychological aspects. We’ve all heard a story from a friend, family member or a colleague who had that “evil art teacher” who laughed at the way she drew penguins and scarred her for life. So with all these things in mind, I’m going to do what every parent does, and just use my best judgement to keep all these things in check and not screw up 🙂 So far, so good.
This is also a course designed for very young children, because it’s all that I know. I started painting with my daughter before she was 1. And now at four she has made a ridiculous amount of drawings (yes. I actually kept them all) over the years. Without sounding like I’m bragging too much, I think that similar concepts and ideas taught in these exercises could be taught to children aged 5 or 6 years old as well. Which brings me to my final point which will set this course apart from many others I’ve looked at online.
I believe firmly that drawing and painting can be taught. Not only have I made this site which has accumulated millions of views, and thousands of people who have taken my courses, but I am quite frankly upset at the attitude that I often see regarding art education. The whole “trace your hand and turn it into a turkey” kind of craft project that doesn’t really teach much about drawing or painting in the long run. That’s not to say that I don’t think these types of projects don’t have any value. Quite the contrary, I absolutely support them. I just wish that we approached drawing and painting skills in the same way we do music.
Two of my former colleagues were complete polar opposites, but they both shared one thing. And that was that they both attended Suzuki programs to teach them how to play the violin when they were little. Both starting at the same age. 3. During my talks with them I was amazed at the similarities between music and art. Things like harmony, tone, and timbre are words which spread across both disciplines. Yet while teachers of music wouldn’t hesitate to tell a student that he is flat, or needs to play at a different tempo, art teachers are kind of stuck in this grey area where they are supposed to teach something but can’t really critique much of what happens afterwards. Praise is fine and good obviously, but direction can also build confidence.
So why approach teaching art to children in this way? Why not just let them have fun and smear some colours across some paper (which I absolutely encourage by the way)? To me, I believe that drawing is a skill, and a skill which has been proven beneficial to a wide variety of disciplines. The computer screen in front of you, that started as a drawing. The patterns on your curtains and bedspread. Those were all drawings. The building which you are in and the car or train you take to work. They all started as drawings. Not to mention the entertainment industry. From concept artists, to storyboarding, to animators, and set designers, they all use drawing all the time, and it is a central skill they need in order to work. In this day and age we often think that computers will magically make something out of thin air. But computers need people to design the characters we watch in 3d animations, and this all comes back to simply knowing how to draw. A pencil and paper.
Drawing is as human as it gets. Going back 26,000 years, there has always been an urge to record and create visual imagery. My attempts for this course will be to try and walk the line between our creative impulses, and a structure about teaching the basics of form, space, line, color, and shape. These are the elements of design, and I’m confident that they can be taught at a much younger age.