Should I enroll my kid in art classes?

Willow Draws

I get this question so often from parents. My advice is to try art classes if you feel motivated, but if the child doesn’t really enjoy the class after a few weeks, bring him back to the kitchen table and cover everything in newspaper! Structured classes can be very frustrating to some kids, especially free spirited ones. 

All images from Willow, written by Denise Brennen-Nelson, illustrated by Cyd Moore

Purple trees and pink skies!

Most younger kids are prepackaged with ultimate creativity. They want to touch and try everything. Artist types are very sensitive souls so encourage their efforts. Never, EVER, say things like, “Who’s ever seen a purple tree?” or “The sky is supposed to be blue,” or even “Your tree doesn't really look like a tree.” Personally, I have seen plenty of purple trees and the sky is all kinds of colors. Instead say, "Tell me about your drawing! I love it!"

When I'm drawing on the big screen during school visits, I question younger audiences whether alligators have...feathers?...or fur?...and they squeal, "Scales!" And then I proceed to draw swirls instead of scales. Kindergarten kids think this is completely hysterical. (They make my job so easy.) The point is that artists young and old blossom when their inner vision is allowed to come out and play. 


Support your creative genius

My mom was an artist. She painted beautiful portraits and landscapes. When we were older, she became an art teacher at a school. But she rarely showed my brothers and me how to draw anything. She did, however, keep us supplied with boxes full of art supplies and signed us up for the county library book mobile program. Reading opened up my small rural world to much bigger possibilities. 

So, support your creative genius by reading books at bedtime. Aim for a thousand a year! That's only about 3 picture books a night. With every story, you'll be expanding their world and forming new brain synapses. Fill art tubs with reams of the least expensive copier paper from the office supply store, bright colored pencils (like Crayola or Prismacolor), markers, pre-mixed paper mache, clay, glitter, feathers, rubber bands, popsicle sticks, yarn, glue sticks, smooth pebbles (for rock creatures) and anything else that they can string, fold, or stick together. "How to draw” books and free online art videos are now everywhere. Paint the walls with chalkboard paint!!! Then, get out of their way! 

By Denise Brennan-Nelson, Rosemarie Brennan

Check out the book I illustrated about a creative kid and her art teacher, Willow. You can get it at your local bookstore or online at Barnes & Noble or Amazon. It's perfect for your budding little Picasso or Georgia O'Keefe!