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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

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Painting and Process

 

Nascence, (Coming Into Being), Acrylic on Canvas, 22" x 30", © 2015, Pamela Atkinson, Pam Atkinson, pamelaatkinson.net, pamelaatkinsonart.com, Painting, Watercolor, Acrylic, Art Workshops and Classes, Riverside CA, Southern CA, Visual Artist, Children's Art Classes, Art Camps

Pamela Atkinson, “Nascence, (Coming Into Being)”, Acrylic on Canvas, 22″ x 30″, © 2015

I’ve been known to find artwork from a few years ago and not remember making it. Looking at it, I wonder why I didn’t value it more. Could the answer be that I wasn’t ready to accept the direction it was taking my work? Was I so involved with my current thoughts that I didn’t want  the distraction of a new concept?

Making a painting is like going on a long trip; what you discover along the way can surprise and delight, and sometimes dismay, but it’s always exciting, and in the end it’s worth all the effort and that’s why I paint.

I’ve read many books that say you need to plan the composition and value placement so that your work looks cohesive, and as a teacher I believe this. But if I follow this advise it leads to stale looking work; stiff and lifeless. I’ve planned paintings in this way and the work was successful but the painter was bored! Where were the surprises and what about the mystery? The adventurous way, and my preferred way of working, is to see where the process takes me. It’s my belief, that since my paintings come from my thoughts there is a built-in harmony between my various artworks. But I know that to pull this off you need good solid knowledge of art making techniques and time spent experimenting with different materials. Art history is crucial, it teaches you to appreciate what you’re seeing and the people who have come before you. Without all of this you are flailing around with a paintbrush in your hand.

I hope you enjoy my newest painting (above) and that it speaks clearly to all who patiently look. It represents energy in it’s raw form becoming something beautiful and strong. It takes determination and patience to create a painting but the final work is well worth the journey.

I’m always curious about other artist’s creative processes. Please write a comment about your artwork and include a link to your site!

Studio Space

I enjoy reading Hyperallergic’s A View from the Easel. Artists send in images of their studios along with a written description. I like the messy spaces the best.  They make me wonder what’s going on under all the stuff, and I’m envious of the people who have a huge space in which to spread out. It got me to thinking about own my workspace, which I love but have never called a studio. It holds my easel, a large work table with space for my paints, computer, and stacks of miscellaneous items from my current projects, a bookcase, and a smaller table for my watercolors. I share the space with our dog Louie and his toys. The space in front of my easel is his favorite daytime location.

Louie sharing his space with Floating, acrylic painting on canvas, 30″ x 40″, ©2015

Louie sharing his space with “Floating”, acrylic painting on canvas, 30″ x 40″, ©2015, Pamela Atkinson

It’s a sunny space.  I’m grateful for the floor to ceiling windows, except in the summer when it gets too hot. From early morning the light filters into the room and illuminates my easel. I’m addicted to the light and all the shifts and changes it makes throughout the day. I used to paint through the night under bulbs balanced for daylight,  I still use them to work on my watercolors, but for my larger paintings there is nothing like sunshine. The light helps to define the colors and show off the many layers of pigment I use to create the forms. In return, when the light begins to dim the mood of the painting shifts and the colors take on a mysterious glow.

I’ve always liked working at home. I get feedback from a very knowledgable man and our dog keeps me from taking my painting too seriously. Where do you do your best work?  I’d love to hear, please leave your comments.  

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