Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once he grows up. – Pablo Picasso
Sometimes I think it necessary to write down the reason I teach. Not only does it help preparing myself, but I thought it would help others. Unlike schools and privately run enrichment centres, my students come to my class only because of me. They are comfortable with me and they enjoy what they get to do in my class, it makes the children keep coming back. But how about the parents? I wanted them to know why I teach and in turn what to expect from me.
Art is my joy. I always believed art is a process and not a product. So when it was time for me to introduce my child to the world of art, I was all set to give him art materials without adult intervention and allow him to explore. I wanted him to create what he would and see what he will in his creations. It was an amazing thing to do but little did I know that though I was right, I hadn’t figured out everything.
I can’t tell how excited I was when I put my own little baby in front of a sheet of white paper and pots of non-toxic washable paint shortly after his first birthday. To say that I was excited would be an understatement. I felt like it was all I had ever wanted to do, the thing I had been waiting for! He was curious and wasn’t as excited as I was, but it was definitely a start. We didn’t stop there, we kept going and very soon, he had his own art station where he could have access to his art supplies without having to wait for mama’s help.
I never stopped him when he was exploring or advise him on what he should be doing. I just let him go, do what he would, just like I thought it should be.
When he was around 4 years old, I sat with my son for a mom and me painting session and in the middle of the session, my son told me that he couldn’t draw as well as I did. That was a big shock for me, because I didn’t think that 4 year olds would ever criticise their art the way adults do. I thought they were confident about their own art and about what they created. And I really did appreciate my son’s bold unrealistic creations much more than my own subtle realistic paintings, not so much because he is my son as because I lack the sort of fearlessness that I’ve observed only children have.
For the first time, I reconsidered all I had discovered about art in early childhood. That was when I realised that useful intervention was definitely needed in a child’s art exploration. And then there was this question about when a child needs adult help, and how much. I enjoyed the process of exploration myself, as I set out paint palettes for children of my friends in my home. And I definitely learnt as much as or more than the kids did during those little art sessions. It helped tremendously when I decided to start my own classes for kids.