Every child is an artist

Every Child is an Artist

 

As a creative artist and an art teacher I’ve always been interested in that critical stage when children stop drawing. When does it happen? What transforms imaginative, creative kids into children who refuse to touch brush and paints? And how do they become adults who are convinced they have no artistic talent?

 

That creative shut-down happens because of their memories from art classes in elementary school. It’s a crucial stage in their childhood, when they realize they can’t portray reality as it is. And it’s the gap between what they wanted to draw as kids, and their drawing ability, that stops them from continuing to freely draw and paint, without inhibitions, self-criticism or judgment.

 

In every intuitive art workshop, the same sentence recurs: “I haven’t drawn since third or fourth grade” – and there’s a reason for it.

 

In art classes in school, children learn to relate to art rationally and consciously. Very little room remains for spontaneous creativity by giving children’s imagination to complete freedom. Art allows people to create from their unconscious, and using imagination is a tool and a vital value for emotional and associative release.

 

Many children aged nine and over, in the pre-realistic stage (apart from cases of delayed development), want more than describing the world schematically. They now try to capture the reality they perceive with their senses, using a realistic, naturalistic style. In other words, they’re discovering more about the surrounding world. They are more aware of themselves, and a scheme is no longer enough to express their emotions. At this stage, children try to describe the world as it appears, though without totally abandoning the familiar schematic design they once used.

 

In social terms, this is called “the age of gangs”. It’s a stage when children realize they belong to a peer group, that others are interested in the same fields of interest, share the same secrets, and enjoy doing the same things. They become aware that group efforts are more powerful and productive than individual endeavors: the groups that crystallize are usually single-sex.

 

It’s known as the pre-realistic stage because children are growing more aware of the “real world”. A special perception of reality is taking shape. Children test that new world of “reality”, and they draw out of their view of the world.

 

In technical terms…

 

The scheme that children used in the previous stage is no longer suitable for them. Now they try to describe things more “authentically”. With growing curiosity and stronger awareness to the world around them, they see details rather than a scheme.

 

Children make tremendous efforts to describe things more realistically, and they do so by going into greater detail. The scheme has become less rigid, and the children try to characterize the figures they draw. Though they do their best to describe things naturally, they still can’t capture three-dimensional objects. They pay more attention to perspective, and because of their awareness of nature and reality, they realize that geometrical lines are not enough to represent space. Children don’t abandon their individualism and uniqueness and try to emphasize differences between one object and another. They don’t draw any person or any house, but a specific person and house. Now we see differences between a male and a female figure, between the figure of an adult and of a child, and there are more external identifying features. Their attempts reflect the typical aspiration to perceive and capture reality. It’s an aspiration that expresses their curiosity and drives to know, which stems from the desire to describe their environment realistically.

 

Clearly, attempting to describe reality is the most prominent aspect of children at that age, and most of the technical and social changes derive from it. Using the imagination becomes more problematic because children are trying to escape from that place. Though creative growth has become more problematic, relating to the imagination can encourage children towards creative efforts, providing options for expression that requires abstract thinking.

 

And if children fail to go undergo that stage, this can be the critical period when they stop drawing, because they think they’re not good enough to draw reality as they’d like to. Children’s inability to bridge between the desire to draw, and their technical ability, immobilizes them in that lack of creative activity as they grow into adulthood.

 

Drawing outside the lines: 7 ways to encourage creative kids

 

 

When you let children express their inner world by drawing in a space that’s respectful, supportive and loving, they believe in their abilities.

Some important tips for parents and children to make art together – no judgment or criticism, but with loads of imagination

 

By Zohar Hajbi

 

Art classes in schools are disappearing, so children have fewer opportunities to express themselves non-verbally, and to experience drawing, color, and creativity in the simplest way possible. In the few opportunities left, an adult’s intervention in the process can have short- and long-term negative effects on children’s creativity; sometimes they even stop drawing altogether.

 

Sometimes an adult gets so involved that the painting looks like work by the parent, nursery-school teacher, or teacher, not the child’s. The end result is meant to please the adult, not the child which is a pity.

 

As parents, you can encourage your child’s creativity, by getting creative together.

Here are some vital tips for creating art together…

 

  1. 1. Choose the location

Find a quiet corner at home or in the yard, turn down your phone, and create an appropriate place without interruptions or external stimuli.

 

Collect all the equipment you need upfront, so there’ll be time for quality work with no distractions.

 

  1. Background music

Choose soft, soothing music that makes art time a pleasure. Upbeat music can make kids unconsciously restless.

 

Music provides inspiration and relaxation and has a subconscious impact on creativity. It encourages a creative mind-set, helping the child move across the paper in an uninhibited dance of colors.

 

  1. A warm-up for the hands

For the first five minutes, just scribble together on the paper, without thinking. Mix up colors, create layers… forget anything you know about painting.

 

The warm-up is a key stage for releasing the hands. It projects the message that “scribbling” is drawing too, and it’s allowed. Later you’ll see how to create art from scribbles.

 

  1. Choose a subject

Make sure to choose the first subject you’ll be focusing on. Kids often find it hard to get a blank sheet and start painting without a subject, and deciding on a subject provides a secure, relaxed start. Choose topics like circles and round shapes, happiness, animals, love – anything the child can relate to easily.

 

Draw freely – whatever the subject brings to your mind. Just go where your hand takes you, without thinking or planning. It doesn’t matter if the child draws something unconnected to the subject, the idea is that the child leads the creative process.

 

  1. The means is vital

Though it’s tempting, don’t intervene at all in children’s painting. Whatever they create – is great. Avoid saying “it’s pretty enough to put on the refrigerator”. Free yourself from the need to give children accurate knowledge about reality, or how to draw it.

 

Some statements are no-no’s, like: “Don’t draw outside the lines”, “The sun should be yellow and round”, or “The sky can’t be purple with dots”. When we intervene, it can restrict the child’s inner statement, when she wants to capture the reality around her.

 

Don’t be concerned that the child isn’t accurate regarding shapes and colours. That comes with time. When parents intervene, the message the child hears is that their drawing needs improving, and that undermines their confidence.

 

Much more important is your child’s inner world and how it’s expressed. Remember, even if you’re “unsatisfied” with the result, you’re judging it with an adult’s achievement-oriented eyes. Focus on your role as helping the child express himself non-verbally.

 

  1. The mantra: when painting, do what you like

A mantra to repeat: when painting, do what you like. Yes, you can draw a big head with tiny feet, flowers can hang down from the sky, animals can wear eyeglasses. Encourage your kids to create originally, give them a place for creative freedom, and encourage them with supportive words.

 

  1. Talk about the painting

Once you’ve finished the activity, the next important step is to let the child talk about his painting. Discuss the painting you made together, and then give him the stage to tell you what he drew and what it reminds him of.

 

When you give your opinion about the painting, do it positively. Talk about specific things in it. Instead of just saying “Wow!”, say “I love the way you drew the bird’s wings. The colors are amazing,” “The sky you painted reminded me of…”  or: “It’s awesome the way you drew the dancing people. I can really feel them moving.”

 

Finally, remember that when your child can express her inner world in a space with respect, support, and love – she’ll believe in her abilities. As parents, your reinforcing, encouraging feedback lets your children love who they are. Because they’ll know that – whatever they draw or create – you accept them as they are, without “corrections” and changes to match the framework.

 

The author, a graduate of the Hamidrasha School of Art,  offers intuitive painting workshops for children, teenagers, adults, companies and organizations.

 

 

The original article, in Hebrew, is at: http://www.ynet.co.il/articles/0,7340,L-4045366,00.html

 

 

Who’s Afraid of Creativity in the Organization?

 

 

(published on the Memo Employee Welfare Managers website)

 

Creativity is defined as mental flexibility, breaking frameworks, and creating new worlds. It is multi-faceted and finds expression in a range of ways. Creativity is our way of gazing at the world through different, colorful eyeglasses. And creativity that leads to innovation supplies a driving force and unending fuel for employees and the organization.

Creativity implies agreement to be in a place that’s unrestrained by arbitrary laws, to allow colorfulness in words and thoughts, using your imagination, taking a fresh perspective on daily routine, absorbing experiences – and making the maximum of yourself. It’s linked to discarding rigid ways of thinking, taking risks, and daring to break through the boundaries in ways of thinking and performing.

It’s important to remember that creativity isn’t a quality restricted to outstanding individuals. We’re all creative, but sadly most of us are trapped in entrenched patterns that prevent our creativity from rising to the surface and expressing our inner thoughts, imagination, colors, and music. Judgmental and critical patterns block our inner light from shining.

Over the years, we acquire self-criticism that doesn’t let us apply our creative drive. Often we’re held back from moving ahead by fear of making mistakes, or concern over the reactions of our CEO, colleagues, spouse, or friends.

Haven’t you ever been stopped short by the fear of sounding “dumb”?

Creativity isn’t a dirty word. So why are organizations worried about it entering their work environment?

Between creativity and organizational culture

That fear is also rooted in organizational culture. But creativity isn’t a dirty word, so why are organizations worried about it entering their work environment?
Why is there constant concern over people who think outside the conventional framework? Does it mean that organizations are afraid of changes?

In many organizations, “preserving what exists” is a guiding principle, because an organization is an organic entity that aims to preserve its basic structure and goals. The same is true for the employees, who want to keep their positions in it.  There’s a kind of comfort in knowing that nothing will change. The familiar and known provide refuge for both the organization and employees.  So when the organization doesn’t leverage us towards innovation and development, we grow accustomed to the situation. Nothing sudden and chaotic can surprise us without advance warning, and jolt our routine world.

The fear of taking risks can actually undermine the existing organizational system, like a terrifying monster speaking an unclear language. And the conclusion is that the winds of change aren’t welcome in a long-established organization. It’s a phenomenon that cripples independent thinking by its employees. And in practice,  it becomes impossible to deal with new situations that take shape.

 

But the rapid changes that the world is going through make it vital to learn how to confront changing situations.

If a creative employee doesn’t get support from a manager who encourages and channels that vitality into positive places, the effectiveness of creativity is lost

Creative employee or creative manager?

 

So how can we integrate creativity in the organizational culture? How can we harness the employees’ creativity for the organization’s benefit?

 

It’s generally assumed that employees can’t be creative without a creative manager. To establish a winning organizational structure, the synergy between the various elements is vital. And if a creative employee doesn’t get support from a manager who encourages and channels that vitality into positive places, the effectiveness of creativity is lost. Creative managers know how to channel those capacities to the correct places – and enjoy the process. Less creative managers may feel threatened and reject new ideas – and that’s how those patterns stay entrenched.

Being a manager means leading change processes, and nurturing creativity and imagination among employees and management. Several benefits result from making that decision, and leading the process:

  • Employees with vision maximize in-house skills, contribute creative ideas to leverage and streamline existing programs.
  • Employees with daring can help minimize acute crisis – because they can find creative solutions for the problem, in real-time.
  • Creative employees know how to exploit their own qualities and skills; they can offer their life experience (and professional experience) to the organization, can imagine possible scenarios, and find practical solutions for problems.
  • Creative employees identify important opportunities for progress, take a calculated risk, and move ahead.
  • Creative employees aren’t afraid to question organizational processes and “truths” that have taken root in the organization.

Dynamics of creativity in the workplace

Group dynamics is a key tool for fostering creativity among employees. Creative managers provide a space where employees can express the various personality aspects that can find expression in the workplace.

It’s worth bearing in mind that alongside gray, brown, and white colors –  are red, orange, and yellow. Each shade is different and each one contributes its distinctive qualities to the whole colorful canvas. “Colorfulness” among employees enables a creative, open organization that has successfully adapted to the needs of a modern organizational structure.

We have to dare and test new things and give them expression in our own lives and the organization because, without a sprinkling of innovation and new experiences, we can never advance into new realms.