Last week I wrote on supporting the Arts throughout the community and beginning with the schools our children attend. Art begins in the home as those of us young enough can remember our parents putting up our masterpieces on the refrigerator, or have children of our own now continuing this wonderful tradition. As children we are free to express ourselves through paper and crayons and proud to share it with anyone who would look. Imagine telling a child their special drawing is not up to par or misses the whole point of good art.
Art is subjective. There isn’t any standardized method to evaluating the quality or magnificence of a painting, drawing or sculpture. We can’t measure, weigh or scientifically calculate the superiority of art, because beauty truly is “in the eye of the beholder.” I recently read an article where the writer demanded more quality artists in the world. He claimed he had the answer to ‘the problem with art’ today, which was simply, “there are no good artists left in the world.” I disagree wholeheartedly. Creative expression should run freely with less of the judgmental, biased and opinionated repartee of the critics.
Whether you are an adult taking up painting for the first time or a child exploring colors, the last thing you need is a detractor telling you how to express yourself. Art is an extension of ourselves and while criticism becomes part of our growing experience, it should only be constructive and never something that takes away the freedom of expression and creativity. Monet, Picasso, Kandinsky, Pollock, Warhol, Murakami, Leibovitz all broke with tradition in their art styles and what they wanted to express. They had their detractors who considered their art not good enough too. Imagine if they took that to heart and stopped creating.
…Which brings me back to children’s art and education.
In my home the children’s creative expression runs wild in a thousand artistic forms. I always encourage them to draw outside of the lines - to not be afraid to take the untamed approach to art in all its forms. Artistic expression needs encouragement and the freedom of experimentation. Artists seek approval from family, teachers and friends, who often discourage them or exclaim, “Don’t quit your day job!” if you’re an adult artist, or consider a child’s art as merely an extension of playtime. Parents often give their children coloring books and are so proud of them when they color ‘within the lines.’ They guide their children to color how they feel they should. “Hair isn’t pink! Here are the colors you can choose from.” What they should be saying is, “Paint that hair blue! Ignore the lines! Green faces? Sure! There is no wrong way to color or express yourself.” Don’t box in life, creativity and conception – we need artistic freedom in society more than you can imagine. Start with our children.
So what can we do to help our children?
Encourage them to color outside of the lines. Give them big paper, then bigger paper, and then even bigger paper and tell them to draw beyond the edges. Let them know that it’s never wrong to express themselves in what you might find to be bizarre or questionable ways. Let them choose colors – and by doing so you can get a glimpse into their world. Let them learn from their ‘mistakes’ and teach them that sometimes a blunder is simply the path to a masterpiece. Give them the creative freedom to be masters and they will change the world.
Remember: grow; learn; conserve; preserve; create; question; educate; change; and free your mind.
About: Kelli Klymenko is an artist, a faculty member and the Marketing & Events Coordinator at Sedona Arts Center: a gathering place where artists can learn, teach, and exhibit their works at the center’s School of the Arts and Fine Art Gallery in uptown Sedona.