"Los Tulipanes"

"Los Tulipanes"
48 X 48, oil on panel

Friday, April 8, 2011

We all come with the ability to draw

Frequently when I meet people and they learn that I am an artist, they tell me they can't draw, or they only draw "stick people". It's probably the same way I look at nurses and I tell them I can't imagine doing what they do.
Think about it though, think of yourself when you were 3 or 4 or 5, or any kid you know at that age, if you ask them to draw themselves or their families or really anything, they will. They quickly begin, without hesitation or any regard for how anyone else will perceive what they draw. Little children are not inhibited, and not only do they come with the ability to visually express themselves, but the desire, and they enjoy it.
So, what happens?
My 3 year old was asked to draw something that begins with the letter B, so she drew her cousin Berkley. (and a tulip beside her, she is my daughter after all). She is 100% confident that this is an accurate rendering of her cousin, she had fun drawing it and is proud of her results. I love it, I think it is wonderful and I want to nurture that confidence, it is so valuable to her and her success, not only as an artist, but in life in general.
Most children want to please their parents and teachers, so when these adults either do not show any confidence or regard for art, children will mirror them. By the time many children are 7 or 8, they have quit drawing their own cute people, and they start drawing the bathroom sign style stick people that the adults around them draw. It breaks my heart to see their people gone replaced by generic "stick people." Ask the same group of people that eagerly drew at age 4 to draw the same thing as an adult, and many will draw "stick people", decline or say they can't draw altogether.
My advice:
If you are a parent or teacher, don't draw stick people. You may be thinking "that's all I can draw." I say you can do better! A great solution is to draw the people your children draw, copy them, they are much better to copy than to have them copy you. Keep your drawing fresh, don't draw the same thing the same way every time- so that your child doesn't think there is only one way to draw one thing- a symbol, instead look at something real and observe it together.
Try to be like a child instead of the child trying to be like you. You'll both start producing better art.
(These are my daughter's drawings before, during and post pregnancy)


Brian said...

Well put, Sarah. I have some of kids art on the wall of my cube. I enjoy comparing how their art improves through the years. Hopefully they can continue and not revert back to sticks. And I promise not to draw stick figures anymore.

Sarah said...

Thank you Brian. That makes my day!

Christina said...

I love your thoughts too. I'm all about keeping the creativity as long as possible. I'm totally one of those who think they can only draw stick figures, I'm working on that:)