Being a colored pencil teacher at the Art House of McKinney, I have a privilege of teaching children as young as 5 through adults. I often get questions from the parents about teaching and developing drawing skills for their young ones so I thought I would share some tips on my blog. Do you have young children who seem to just love art and keep on drawing for hours and hours? Try these at home:
Ask Questions – young ones especially around the age 5-8 absolutely love drawing from their imagination. Please encourage this, since this will help develop their story-telling skills and creative expression later in their life. After they are done with their drawing, ask lots of questions to help develop the background of their drawing. Where are they standing? What are they doing? What time of the day is it? Is it sunny, cloudy, hot, or cold? Do they have any friends there? Do you see any birds on the tree branch? etc. Have them go back and add more details. This helps to develop their visualization skills and attention to details in creating a story. This also provides a great training for the young ones to learn how to create their own unique compositions.
Give them tools to achieve their goals – does your child gets frustrated for not being able to draw exactly what they have envisioned in their head? We want to encourage their active imaginations, but we also want to ensure that we are giving them enough tools to be able to achieve their vision. Help your child by searching through the images on the internet together so that he/she can learn how it is supposed to look. Have them sketch from a photo or two so that they can understand the proportions first hand. After they have see enough images to get a good idea, turn off the screen and have them work on their own. This way they can focus on creating their composition rather than making their vision fit the reference photos they see.
Draw what you see, not what your brain wants you to see – we need to understand that our vision is often skewered by the filters created by our brain to process that image. Young children often sees things more with their heart. This is why we often see toddler’s drawing of their parents with big head, huge eyes and a smile, and tiny arms and legs sticking out from their head. Their drawing is just a representation of what they “see” and this does not mean that they do not know how to draw with correct proportions. Sometimes you just have to let them mature and grow up a bit more before they can develop objective observation skills. By age 10, most children will develop enough observation skills to be able to capture the shape fairly accurately. But if your child is passionate about the drawing, by owe means please start training them to draw with right proportions. One way to learn is to trace the picture using a tracing paper before freehand draw on a paper. Believe it or not, when it is practiced over time they will naturally learn to capture the right proportion without them even noticing. Another way is to turn the reference photo and the drawing upside down and draw upside down. This technique forces your child to focus on seeing the true shape rather than identifying the subject, and helps them draw exactly what they see.
Master the art of positive attitude – often times, we can be too harsh on our own work. I often hear my students (young and old) say “I don’t like my drawing” or “I messed up,” and I make a point of having them not say that about their work. We will inevitably encounter moments when we do not like our work, but this is exactly the moment that we can turn our frustration into the yawing of improvement. When you hear your child say they don’t like their drawing, ask them why and see if you can help them identify what needs to be improved – not what they don’t like. Instead of saying “I don’t like my drawing” or “I can’t draw”, teach them to say “I think I can improve my drawing.” Having an eye to be able to identify that there maybe some errors to fix in the drawing is a great skill to have of its own. If your child can already identify there is something wrong with the drawing, know that it as a skill and a gift that you can build on to further their artistic skills. Rather than letting them having an emotional reaction, work towards solving and fixing the errors. This will also train their perseverance and endurance in seeing through their project until the completion. Please never, ever have their drawing thrown into the trash can. Keep them and go back to it later to have them fix and finish.