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Be Creative! : Children Teach Creativity

Children Teach Creativity

By Linda Nowicki

Child's Chalk DrawingChildren have an endless well of creative energy. It shows up in the whimsical lyrics they sing, their imaginative play, and in their innate ability to make something out of anything. Because they don't fret over what anyone else will think, they are free to live an authentic life that reflects their unique style. But something happens as we grow. We begin to look outward instead of inward for approval. We let magazines tell us what is stylish and how to decorate our homes. We listen to the music of others instead of creating our own. When we look at our children, it's difficult to imagine that creativity ever came that easy to us. But it did. And it's possible to get that artistic spontaneity flowing with some creative exercises you can do with you child.

Think back to the last time your child was painting. What were you doing while they were elbow deep in poster paint? Were you talking on the phone? Worrying about your To-Do list? Or worse, worrying about the mess? Distractions like these rob parents of golden opportunities they could be spending with their children and the chance to get a lesson in creativity from their pint sized pro.

Creative exercises are designed to help you get absorbed in the process of creating without worrying about the end product. Children do this naturally. They can paint for hours and become so absorbed in it they lose themselves completely. Ask them what they are painting and they will look at you as if you had three heads. The idea that it had to be anything never occurred to them. There is some merit to this carefree style.

In the mid 1940's the artist Jackson Pollock used a technique called 'drip and splash' to achieve his goal of non-objective art. Instead of using an easel, he affixed his canvas to the floor or the wall and poured and dripped paint from a can. Instead of using brushes he used sticks and trowels, sometimes obtaining a heavy impasto by adding sand or other foreign matter. This technique allowed him to focus on the act of creating and allowed the artwork to evolve spontaneously.

Pollock's idea of becoming absorbed in your work is the goal of the creative exercises listed below. To help you achieve this, take time to really notice the colors, textures and techniques used. Pay attention to how you feel as you do them. You may discover that painting relaxes you and decide to pursue it as a hobby. But most of all have fun, be present in the moment and enjoy one of the finest creations ever made - your child.

Creative Exercises

Everyone will need a blank piece of paper, a few paints, a brush and some containers to mix colors. Make sure each person memorizes where each color is. Take a deep breath and close your eyes. Now mix the colors that make a perfect sky. You know - the one you see in your mind and long for in your heart. Don't think about bills or laundry. Allow yourself the freedom to create. (You can repeat this one with your eyes open.)

  • You may want to go outside for this one. Get a big piece of paper. Butcher paper or poster board works well. Set out some paint on a paper plate and paint a picture. The only catch is you have to use your feet.
  • Put on some music you enjoy. Preferably one with no words. While you're listening, paint how the music makes you feel. Explore and compare the emotions of melody and rhythm reflected in your art.
  • Cut out a bunch of different sized shapes using many different colors of paper. Some of your shapes should be similar but different sizes. For instance, have 3 circles of different size, etc. When you cut them out be sure you have 2 pieces of paper together so you cut out one set of shapes for you and one for your child. Have one person arrange the shapes on a piece of paper without the other person seeing. Now describe your picture so that the other person can try to recreate it.
  • Cut out various pictures from a magazine or newspaper. Paste them on paper and take turns writing the story.
  • Using colored pencils scribble on paper making various sized circles, lines, ovals, etc. Work on one area of the paper at a time. When you feel one area is done turn the paper to a different angle and scribble again. Continue until you have filled in all the corners. Take turns looking at each other's scribble art. If you see a meaningful picture, shade that area to make it more vivid.
  • Take paper and paint to a nearby park. Paint a picture using pinecones, leaves, sticks and anything else you can find. Talk about the results of each tool used.
  • Get some clay and try to shape a person keeping your eyes closed. Get as much detail as possible. The goal here is to pay attention to how the clay feels in your hands and trust your own instincts. When you open your eyes it's okay to laugh.
  • Lay on the ground with your kids and create a story by using characters that you see in the clouds. If you come up with one you both like, write it down and illustrate it. It's a great way to get a peek inside your child's head.
  • This one is only for you. Think back to the time when you were a child. Back to the time when you had the courage to wear what you wanted without any regard for peer pressure. Back to the time when you created like a child. Now find a picture of you at that age. Frame it and keep it somewhere so you will see it every day. Let it be a gentile reminder to trust your own sense of style.

"Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once we grow up." ~ Pablo Picasso

© 2003 Linda Nowicki