by Theresa Harris
When your child brings home their art from school, what’s your typical response? “Wow”, “It’s beautiful!”, or “I love it”?
This isn’t a trick question. No matter what your response, it’s understood that as parents and caregivers, our role is to support and encourage our budding artists, regardless of skill level. But here’s something to consider: What was going through your child’s brain when they drew that picture or painted that landscape? What did they imagine? Is the image part of a larger story? Is it fantasy-based or realistic? Does their art say anything about their hopes, their dreams or their fears? Wouldn’t it be cool if you could get into their creative minds a little bit and understand what their experience and process was when making art?
Art is so much more than what happens on the page. It’s also about the inspiration, creative thinking, and innovation. When you start thinking of art in this way, it opens up a whole range of possibilities for you to explore with your child.
How do you get the dialogue going? Here are five conversation starters you can use to talk to your child about their art in a thoughtful way. The questions are part of a parent education program I’ve started called “Art Talk.” The questions are straightforward, yet are designed to quickly draw out deeper levels of artistic thinking.
Here are 5 main questions to ask your child about their art:
- What did you create? What process did you use in making your art? What materials did you use and why? How did you plan your picture? Why did you use those colors?
- What do you see? What is this? Is it a thing or a place? Real or imaginary? What is happening in the picture?
- What did you learn? Did you use a new material or learn a new technique? Who taught you? Was it hard or easy? Show me how you did it so I can see what you’ve learned.
- What do you love? What do you love about this artwork? Are you happy with your work? Are there certain parts that you like better than others?.
- What do you wish? If you were to make this again, would you do anything differently? Would you use a different material, color or composition? Is there anything you’d like to change?
For more ideas for using Art Talk with your kids, take a look at the Parent Tip Video at www.thriveart.com/arttalk
When kids are given the opportunity to talk about their art and share their experiences, it can enhance their self-awareness and confidence. When I’ve used this tool with my students and with my own child, I’ve been amazed at how capable they are at being reflective, and their responses are often incredibly insightful, and sometimes hysterical! Oh- the things they come up with!
What are some of the fun and insightful things your kids have said when you get them talking about art?
Theresa Harris is founder of Thrive Art School in Seattle and Thrive Art Online, a video-based art program for kids. When she is not is playing legos and making messes with her two lively boys age 2 & 4, she loves to hike and paint with encaustics.