Before my kids were able to fully express themselves through words, they were little artists creating images as bold and unique as they were. And while mini masterpieces on important papers, floors, and walls tested my patience at times, it didn’t take long for me to realize that a crayon in the hand was worth more than 64 in a box.
I first noticed my eldest son’s emotional connection to art in preschool. While all his classmates had drawn charming stick families with giant, endearing smiles for an Open House display, mine created a small forest of trees. When I asked why he didn’t create a family portrait like everyone else, he dramatically confessed that he had: “I made us into forest trees so we could be very big and live forever!” My son is an introvert who struggled to articulate his daily needs, wants, and fears; art gave him a voice to express the contents of his heart in a way that made sense to him.
Soon, drawing became everything. He drew during meals, car rides, shopping trips, and bedtime. Notebook upon notebook filled with the creative thoughts and ideas of a boy who saw a world of forgotten possibility. He lit up creating and describing his images. He grew confident and proud, thinking one day he’d become an artist. What he didn’t know was that he already was an artist. His work was being seen by family, friends, and viewers online, and that same work was making people smile. He was an artist of more than pretty pictures — he was an artist of possibility and imagination.
I suppose it came as little surprise when my youngest followed a similar artistic path. Born into his brother’s renaissance, my little one strived to create the moment he was old enough to grasp a crayon with chubby, determined fingers. Together, my boys joined forces to create memories and masterpieces. They turned scribbles into fireworks in the night sky, transformed wrinkled papers into textured mediums and accidental tears into objects of deliberate expression. They made little art books for family and friends, created special occasion cards, comics, and even illustrated a children’s book I’d been toying around with. They created together and they created apart, but they mostly created because their imaginations were too big not to.
Eleven-year-old Autumn’s creative journey began in quite the same way. After an accidental discovery of her artistic talents at age 5, her passion and determination led her to become a respected young artist within the art community. Take a look at her incredible story:
What my sons and I noticed most about Autumn was her undeniable passion — a light that shined so bright, her spirit possessed each work of art she created. And it’s no wonder. Autumn revealed, “When somebody takes home a painting, I feel as though they’re taking a part of my imagination.”
Pablo Picasso once said, “Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once we grow up.” Picasso understood the precious gift of creative expression free from fear, criticism, and crippling self-doubt. As masters of potentiality and accidental artistic radicals, creative kids serve as a testament of organic soul expression. “I just go for it,” Autumn explains. “I let my heart go.” With the support of parents who nurtured her small creative spark at age 5, Autumn’s creative freedom continues to inspire and delight art lovers of all ages.
When it comes to encouraging the creative talents of our children, there are five simple things parents can do to make a powerful difference.
1. Be on the lookout.
Every child is a natural creative born with talents and passions. Tap into your child’s gifts wherever you may find them. What begins as a doodle on a folder, short story in a notebook, passion for performing, love of sports, or academic aptitude can kick-start your child’s incredible journey of creative self-expression.
2. Foster your child’s interests.
Thankfully, we don’t have to spend a lot of money to foster our children’s natural talents. Get involved in city programs that cultivate your child’s interests and lend your energy into helping your child learn more.
3. Offer inspiration.
Your local library is a great place to take in many of the sights, sounds, and resources required on your child’s creative adventure. Museums, exhibits, festivals, and free public events are also a wonderful way to encourage artistic growth and development.
4. Provide encouragement.
Recognize your child’s efforts and progress. Compliment them, showcase their work, and express pride in their determination and personal commitment.
5. Get creative!
It’s important for kids to see their parents exercise creative muscle and try new things – even if we don’t know what we’re doing! Following personal passions and expressing creative interests sends a powerful message about the joy that comes from personal discovery.