Ten Ways to Encourage Young Artists

I recently posted a 30 second video of my students painting at the easel. The video showed the children painting their papers from one edge to the other. In the comments, I was asked “Don’t you encourage something rather than seeing how much paint is put on the paper?” This question made me realize how easy it is to miss the bigger picture when it comes to encouraging our young artists.

Let me begin with what the video didn’t show. The video didn’t show how the children spent time choosing, organizing, and adding paint colors to the paint cups before starting to paint. The video didn’t show the children hanging up their own paper on the easel or taking it down when finished. The video didn’t show the children asking if they can paint another, then another.

However, the video did show the children deeply engaged and invested in the painting process. The video did highlight what stage the children were in with their development of self-regulation, fine motor skills, eye-hand coordination, and decision-making.

More importantly, the video showed the children firmly at a stage where mixing colors and painting pieces of paper from one edge to another satisfied their artistic desires and interests.

To answer the question, “Don’t you encourage something rather than seeing how much paint is put on the paper?”

The answer is, “Yes,” I encourage the children to…

  1. Notice how the paint colors change as they are mixed together.
  2. Swirl the paintbrush in different directions, lines, and dots.
  3. Use the opposite end of the paintbrush to scratch their name in the paint on the paper.
  4. Paint and talk with a friend while they paint.
  5. Observe the world around them as they paint.
  6. Tell me about their painting if they wish.
  7. Hang up their own paper on the easel before they paint.
  8. Put their own paper on the drying line or shelf when they are done.
  9. Notice how the red paint brush goes in the red paint cup and the blue brush goes in the blue paint cup.
  10. Gather the materials they need to get started.

I know that this isn’t the kind of encouragement one might expect but what I want to see more than a pretty rainbow is a competent, confident, and independent artist art work.

Key Take-Aways

  • Children need to satisfy their current creative needs and desires before they will be ready for the next stage of creative expression.
  • Each stage of art is satisfied by giving children the freedom, tools, and time to explore the creative process.
  • There is more to encouraging the creative process than what goes on the canvas.
  • A competent, confident, and independent artist is an empowered artist.

Now it’s your turn!

Take a second and share your take-aways or ideas in the comments below.

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