The “I LOVE it!” Kid
So, a lot of people out there have children. (That’s no surprise.) And a lot of people out there who have children like to take their children to do different hobby-type things: hockey, soccer, piano, choir, etcetera. And a lot of people who take their children to do different hobby-type things want them to have experience in art. And some of those people who take their children to have experience in art bring their kids to Painted Earth. And those are the people that I get to meet.
I get to work with kids and their parents together in the front studio as they paint ceramics, and I get to work with kids specifically in our kids classes in sculpting, canvas painting, and ceramics painting—as well as in the kids art program. I’ve been doing this for years, and I just want to share one of the experiences I’ve had with kids and creativity through Painted Earth.
In the Fall Session for Kids Art Program, one little boy attended along with seven girls. He was on the younger side and had a difficult time following the directions I gave for each project. I pride myself on helping students meet specific objectives during the art education program, but, sometimes, you just have to let a kid paint to the beat of his own drum. Not always, but sometimes. This was one of those times, and the reason I let him slide when he just simply couldn’t quite focus was because he absolutely LOVED everything that he made. I’d come by his seat to look at his colorful, chaotic masterpiece, and I’d ask him, “Do you like it?” And he would look up at me with a beaming smile and say “Yes!” so enthusiastically that the room felt a little brighter afterwards.
And that’s important—that absolute love a child can have for their own creations. It’s building their self-esteem and their confidence in their own abilities. It’s teaching them to love themselves and, sometimes, to take creative risks. Sometimes, kids’ art doesn’t look the way that you think it should. Like, technically that penguin we’re painting doesn’t have a mustache… you know? But, then again, why not give the penguin a mustache? As adults, we learn that we’re supposed to be overly critical of ourselves—our art, our bodies, our intelligence, our personalities—we’re always supposed to be improving and feel like we aren’t finished becoming. But the thing is, we’re already pretty awesome. And that little kid from the Kids Art Program totally understood that!
And that “I LOVE it!” kid taught me how important it is to love whatever it is that any child creates. A kid’s piece of art is an expression of who they are—and that should be encouraged! I would much rather see little artists love what they paint in my class than watch as they criticize themselves to tears. Not to say that classes have no rules and anything goes, but I think a little leeway in a kids art class is okay, because a child’s ability to enjoy their own creative work is more important to me than a perfect final piece.