As a new art teacher I’ve really enjoyed getting to know my students, and preparing fun lessons for them to experience. What I didn’t realize is how much I would learn myself. To teach a four year old how to draw shapes and lines is important, but what happens when the technicality of art overshadows the fun and true meaning of it? I believe children instinctively know the answer. They experiment, they imagine, and they aren’t afraid to color (or paint) outside of the lines. My students remind me each day of the real reason for art, which is self expression. I see the fun on their faces when they mix paint with their fingers, discover new colors, and dream up new characters to draw. I watch them take the instruction I’ve given and make it their own, using their new skills to create something that reflects themselves.
As adults we can tend to get caught up in the aesthetics of art, the neatness of it. It’s tempting to fix a child’s work, do it for them, or fret about an imperfect line or odd choice of color. Because of this we may feel as if the art we ourselves create is inadequate, unworthy to be shown, or we may simply give up on art, thinking that we “can’t do it”. Yet children know that aesthetics are secondary, and what matters most is getting their idea on paper. Artwork is proudly displayed, because they made it, and that alone makes it special. Notice that every young child believes they are an artist, because they are! In their view there is less self-consciousness, less self-judgement. They choose to see the content of their art as a complete whole, a complete concept, rather than fret about the details. It is a sad day if or when a child no longer believes in their ability to create. I wish that as adults we would retain a bit of child-like forgiveness, and allow ourselves the privilege of simply having fun! I am lucky enough to be reminded of this often, by my students. After all, that is what art is all about!
-Rachael Dixon (Bravo Employee)