How do we teach children to paint? We all realize the importance of art in child’s education. Art helps children to be creative and innovative which is a very important aspect of a child’s learning. Art also improves child’s academic excellence and their visual independence. They are able to focus and express themselves independently.
Painting should be a relaxing activity for kids. They should be happy and excited while they paint. We parents and teacher in India are overwhelmed to teach rather than to experience what children already feel and think about art. You will love the honesty of children’s art.
Not many rules and how-to-do sessions
We start teaching art to children with lots of rules like ‘color in one direction’ or ‘do not go out of boundaries’. This is the time when the child might be lost and cannot think further. They wait for directions to paint and wait for others to approve it. They do not seem to own their paintings anymore. Give them some broad guidelines and see them paint
Allow them to think
Give them a topic and give them some time to think. After they know what they want, help them write a few points. This is important for two reasons, one to see that they have something to say about the painting and it is not a plain static painting and secondly, it helps them to stick to their idea. Children can change their idea the moment they find it difficult to draw.
Let them draw first
I remember asking a 10-year-old child to draw a rabbit and her immediate answer was that she has not drawn a rabbit before. In these situations asked the child to describe the object. Here I asked what makes an animal look like a rabbit? Then came a long list of features like long ears, fluffy tail, whiskers, furry round body. So we start drawing in the air and she finally put something on paper. This way even a reluctant child or a child who wants instructions will start putting things on paper.
The moment you show the child how to draw, the child starts to imitate the same way and then it looks like the way elders do. Try not to touch the child’s paper. Let them draw and they will gain confidence.
Help them to draw big
One of the challenges that I face when I teach art is that some children draw so small that it is difficult to paint with pastel or brushes. Many a time, they draw one or two small characters in the center of the page leaving the rest of the paper blank. Show how big the character should be. Whatever be the size of the paper, let them draw big filling the entire drawing area. Even if they are drawing on an A5 sheet of paper, see that the paper is filled up completely.
Think about the overall picture
Children start detailing a part of the object before they have drawn the entire character. Suppose the child is drawing a pig. They draw the outline of the face and then they are busy drawing the eyes, nose, ears and marks on the face. When they start drawing the body for it, it might not be quite proportional anymore. Let them lightly draw the entire character before they start detailing them.
Remove the eraser
I do not know how many times I have done this. Erasing again and again does not help the children get the perfect shape of the object they want to draw. Instead, the object rarely takes the shape they have imagined. So restrict them to use them. You can also have art challenges where the children do not use pencils at all.
Pick up fun topics
Give topics that are fun to draw. Creating your own characters might be fun. Doing fun activities while painting also increases creativity.
Help children to paint bright
Let the children use a lot of colors. When they are painting a large area within a boundary, help them pick up different colors or fill them with patterns. If they are using acrylic, see that they are not diluting the colors too much. Colors help picture look bright.
Give all sizes of paper
Change the sizes of paper for the class. A5 sheets are good when you are teaching in the class as it is easier to complete. Alternate it with A4 and A3 sheets. Also, try and have joint projects where all kids paint on a single sheet together.
Give all mediums
Children should experiment with different mediums at the same time. Acrylic, oil pastels and sketch pen or markers are bright and they go well with each other.
Expose them to different types of paintings
Drawing still life all the time or creating landscape restricts them in their imagination. Expose them to artists who have different styles and achieve different effects in their paintings. Sometimes let them paint geometrical shapes while at other times let them be completely abstract. Teach them how to draw something near and something at a distance. Sometimes paint a picture which gives a sense of depth and sometimes paint it flat.
See the painting from a distance
Things do not always look the same when seen from close and from a distance. To understand the composition on a whole, hold the painting away from the child. My daughter loves holding the paper in front of the mirror. Actually she gets twice the distance by this. You can easily balance the color after that or add a thing or two.
Have classes of shorter duration
The attention span of a child is less and having classes of longer duration is strenuous for them. It is in fact difficult for elders too to sit for long hours. I typically like to keep my classes for 1 hr to 1:15 mins. If is after that they start to lose interest and the painting starts to get all messy.
Outline the picture
It is important to outline a child’s paintings. For a smaller child below 8 years it makes the painting clearer. It is not necessary to always outline with black paints or markers. Use different colored markers to highlight the images. Older children might look for other ways to highlight their subject.
Make the painting busy
A painting always look better when they are busy. The painting can be made to look busy by the number of objects that are there or the colors that have been used.
One the best times I have is with children, teaching them art. Their ideas and thoughts are so unique and fresh and as a teacher I learn a lot from them. Leave them free and see them create the masterpieces.