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The Big Ta Da

“The difference between art and science is that science is what we understand well enough to explain to a computer. Art is everything else.” -Donald Knuth, American computer scientist, mathematician, and professor emeritus at Stanford University.

This student is in the 7th grade. His compositions are always unusual and well thought out and his brushstrokes create a sense of movement throughout the composition.

This student is in the 7th grade. His compositions are always unusual and well thought out and his brushstrokes create a sense of movement throughout the composition.

Parents love the performance, the big game, the recital; it’s a chance to have their child in the spotlight and have bragging rights, too! I love theater, dance, and music and I enjoy seeing children on stage, and all are important components of a well-rounded education. But what about the visual arts? There is rarely applause, but painting, drawing, and sculpture are just as important to the education of a child and to our society as the performing arts. The joy a young child feels when they create an artwork is magnified by the fact that their creation can be shared with their classmates and family. The knowledge that your art can bring joy to others is empowering. It’s an opportunity for a child to have a positive effect on their world.

Why should children participate in art class? Creating a painting is personal; the artist can communicate feelings they may have no words to express. Gaining an understanding of their emotions can help a child develop compassion and caring for others and for themselves.

Pamela Atkinson, Pam Atkinson, Art Programs, Art Classes, Riverside CA, pamelaatkinsonart.com, pamelaatkinson.net, creativekidshavefun.com

Pamela Atkinson, Pam Atkinson, Art Programs, Art Classes, Riverside CA, pamelaatkinsonart.com, pamelaatkinson.net, creativekidshavefun.com

Pamela Atkinson, Pam Atkinson, Art Programs, Art Classes, Riverside CA, pamelaatkinsonart.com, pamelaatkinson.net, creativekidshavefun.com

These second grade students were given the same instruction and viewed the same examples, but the three paintings are all unique. No two children are alike and their artwork shouldn’t be either.

The abilities of their classmates have a strong effect on a child’s sense of worth. Excelling in a subject and being proud of your work is crucial to self-esteem. By focusing only on Science and Math we leave a large percentage of children vulnerable to making false assumptions about their ability to succeed in the world. Developing self-discipline and the courage to keep going is something that the visual arts can develop in a child. Creating more and more artwork, the student’s skills and understanding of the process of making art develops, as does their ability to communicate their thoughts and ideas.

Arts education is crucial if we are to have a society that is literate, able to solve problems, and think creatively. These skills are needed in the rapidly changing 21st century. The procedures used in making an artwork are a mixture of knowledge; some of it technical, acquired experience, and on-the-spot intuition.

It’s my belief that everyone can learn to draw, paint, or make a sculpture, but most children are never given the intellectual tools or the opportunity. Creating artwork takes an accumulation of experiments to reach the place where all the elements and principles come together for success. This process should start early and continue through elementary school at the very least. Years of exploring and experimenting will help a child develop an understanding of what it means to be a creative thinker. Practice is important; not everything that’s created will become a finished artwork, but each attempt will be a step in the development of skills and expand the artist’s knowledge. Art can set students on a path that leads to a life of creative thinking, problem solving, and the joy of making and appreciating art.

This student is in the 5th grade and she has a well-developed sense of style. All the artwork in this post was created by students from All Saints Carden Academy.

This student is in the 5th grade and she has a well-developed sense of style. All the artwork in this post was created by students from All Saints Carden Academy.

Pamela Atkinson

First Day Jitters

 

Self Portraits, created by students from Saint Francis de Sales Elementary, 2013/14 school year.

For the last few years, I’ve been teaching art at two different schools. Getting to know the kids over a period of time has its advantages.  I appreciate Sally’s beautiful line drawings and  Thunder’s colorful and bold designs and it’s easy to guide students to a deeper understanding of art making when you know them and how they approach an assignment.  I’m delighted to see all the kid’s skills develop and that moment, around the 4th grade when those who were struggling to understand observational drawing finally grasp how it works, makes me as happy as it does them. Most of my students apply what I teach them and build on previous lessons, and because of this, their artwork is confident and inventive. This year, I’ve added a new school to the mix.

I’m working with the 4th to 8th grades and any nerves I felt at meeting the kids were soon forgotten. Most of them were enthusiastic and extremely polite and my first day went by in a flash. The students seemed happy to have the opportunity to draw but there are those few worried students that I hope to reach. They were too well-behaved to groan outwardly, but wrapping their arms around their paper to shield it from my view is a sure sign of discomfort and one student erased his whole drawing as the rest of the class was turning in their work.  My drawing pencils and I caused some kids to want to be anywhere but in there seats.

Art is a funny thing, most people think you’re either born with the ability to create or you’re not. That everything an artists makes is easy to do and looks amazing when completed. If this were true, the world would be a much more visually exciting place. But art making requires knowledge, thought, ability, perseverance, and the courage to evaluate what you’ve created and make changes when necessary, all skills I try to convey to young artists.

I want all of my students to learn and have a wonderful experience, but most of all I want the worried kids to know that it’s not about being the best, it’s about enjoying the process.

Check out http://creativekidshavefun.com to learn more about our programs and to view our student’s work.