MY last article focuses on children aged two to eight.
Their joyous naivety and wild imaginations mean that they are not limited by what is acceptable – the so-called rules of art production – and what is right or wrong.
Perhaps we could all learn from their freedom of expression. I often feel sorry when adults say, “I can’t paint.”
Give them huge cans of paint, a floor covered in paper and shout, “DIP YOUR HANDS INTO THIS PAINT AND COVER THE PAPER!” And there you have it… an abstract painting. I guarantee they wouldn’t look back.
Lately I have been reminded of my early childhood and how I was encouraged from the age of four to experiment with different mediums, mainly pencil or watercolor.
The resource options for young artists these days are endless, which is wonderful and should be taken advantage of.
Some parents, caregivers, and teachers who are not artists themselves may be reluctant to introduce their children to art materials. However, given how few resources they need, it’s surprising how much children need adult guidance.
Their heads are like giant sponges, absorbing shapes, colors and sounds. It doesn’t matter if a tree is painted blue, a face has a nose on its forehead, or a dog has three legs with a red-spotted body. We do not care? You only have to look at all the artistic movements of the last hundred years to see that these images would fit in somewhere, without appearing out of place.
Let young children experiment and have freedom while they can. I understand that certain skills should be taught in schools, for example, color mixing, perspective and pencil techniques are disciplines that can be useful, especially for young people wishing to embark on an artistic career. After all, art is not just drawing and painting.
Many primary schools no longer have stand-alone art classes, which I find worrying. It is “introduced” into other lessons such as History. Learning about the Great Fire of London, children create a red, yellow and orange painting or collage. Oh please! I can’t tell you how many displays in school hallways I’ve seen with a collection of buildings on fire. This does not include an art session or, to be honest, improving their knowledge of this historic event.
I know the pressures of following the rules at school – believe me, I’ve always gotten into trouble for going off on art.
I would like you to take a close look at the exciting paintings on this page by children who obviously enjoyed producing them. Elias’ cute collage of plates, Matilda’s gorgeous dog portrait, Penny’s fabulous messy hand-painting, Aydin’s neat whale shark and finally Evie’s colorful rainbow garden.
Please keep sending us your artwork as I have a big event in the works. Watch this place.
Email me at email@example.com
* Lynne Dobson is a Bradford artist and retired art teacher. She recently appeared on BBC2 Joe Lycett: Summer Exhibitionist.