by Charlotte B. DeMolay
The title of this post, “Teaching Art to Kids, for Fun and for Profit” probably isn’t the kind of headline you’ve come expect in our current era of under-funded school systems and overloaded teachers.
Fortunately, I am not going to be talking about teaching in a public school system where—well—it’s under-funded and the teachers are overloaded.
Instead, I’m talking about using your own knowledge and skills to fund your art business, gain inspiration, or even earn enough supplement income to stay at home with your kids. I’ve been able to do all three of those things and, yes, I’ve had fun and profit along the way!
So is teaching kids an option for you? Let’s find out.
What it takes to teach art to kids:
First, make sure you know enough about art to teach it.
I graduated with a Bachelor’s of Fine Art and have been a practicing artist for over 14 years. If you don’t have an art degree, but you’ve been a practicing artist for several years you may still be able to teach.
Before sitting down with the kids, get some basic art books from a university bookstore or a well-stocked library. Read about the elements of art and the principles of design. Get comfortable with the vocabulary of art and always be exploring art history. All of this will be important for you as a teacher. (more…)
Part of the attraction of art, for many kids, is the freedom from restraint that it offers, so be sure that any formal lesson is well balanced by plenty of free time. Often ‘art lessons’ can be incidental to everyday activities, observing the shapes found in nature, tracing with fingers on foggy windows, or observing textures and colors of fabrics. Try these introductory drawing lessons for children:
Seeing Shapes: From around 5 years
What You’ll Need: a cylindrical object (a mug or can), a rectangular object (a box).
The purpose of this lesson is to discover that what we know about an object is different to what our eyes see at one time. Begin with a discussion. It should go something like this: Sitting beside junior, at their eye level, I hold up the cup, and ask what shape the top is. ‘A circle!’. ‘Good! Now, look closely at the circle.’ I tilt the mug slowly until it looks like a fairly thin ellipse. ‘Now what shape is it?’ ‘Hmmm.. a circle?’ ‘Is it? Really? Have another look. It is a circle, but see how it LOOKS thin and squashed.’ I draw the ellipse on the chalkboard. Do the same exercise with the box, observing how the rectangle becomes a rhombus when tilted.
Seeing Colors: From around 5 years
What You’ll Need: Simple, solid-colored objects and a directional light source (so that the object will have highlights and shadows).
Like the lesson above, this is essentially a discussion to investigate the difference between the known and the seen. Show the object to your child, and ask about its color. Is it the same color all over? The surface is (painted) the same all over, but it looks different depending on the light. Where does it look lighter and darker? Sketch the object and show how you can use shading to show the light and dark areas. (Keep it simple).
Observing Perspective: All Ages
When travelling in the car, or walking, look out for an area where you can observe a clear foreground, middle ground and background. Take the opportunity to point out:
· how much smaller distant objects look than closer ones
· how colors change from close to distant
· how distant objects look blurry (atmospheric perspective)
· how much detail you can observe in closer objects
See if you can find a reproduction of a painting of a similar scene, and see how the artist has handled these elements.
A Must in the Business World
by Alberta Johnson
Over and over, research shows that kids who receive art lessons while they are young become more imaginative and creative adults. As you may know, creativity is an essential part of intelligence, and is often used as a gauge for measuring IQ.
With increasing demands being placed upon schools, teachers, and youth groups to educate our kids in the three R’s, education in the arts has begun to suffer in many areas of the country in favor of the “more important” or “more practical” subjects.
What people need to understand is that art education in schools IS important, and in fact essential to form well-rounded adults. In the business world, for example, people who are creative are much more likely to find success. Creativity allows for innovation, a vital characteristic in today’s business executive. To stay ahead of the game, for example, a business must be able to initiate and adapt to change. Both of these things are impossible without creativity, which is best learned at an early age. (more…)
For kids to have more fun when looking at artwok, ask them the following questions:
1) Pick one piece of artwork and study it carefully.
Name of the Artist?
What is the Title of the Artwork?
What would you have called this painting if you had done it?
2) Describe the objects or people that you see in the artwork?
Do objects or people fill up the space?
Is there a lot of space in between or around?
3) What type of shapes do you see? (Are they circles, oval, squares, rectangles or triangles?)
4) What type of lines do you see? (Are they wavy, straight, thin, thick, broken, jagged, vertical or horizontal lines?) (more…)
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Artists Helping Children is No Longer Acting as a Nonprofit Due to the New Provisions of The Pension Protection Act of 2006 Passed on August 03, 2006. We Are No Longer Accepting Donations of Any Kind. We are Currently Keeping This Site Up As Is and Will Continue to Post Information on Any Updates to the Status of Artists Helping Children. The Site Still Has a Wealth of Information and Can Still Be Used as Such. (more…)
Why do the arts make such a difference in how students learn and perceive the world?
Part of the answer is biological. Researchers Shaw and Rauscher believe music stimulation actually forms new and permanent connections in children’s brains. San Francisco neurologist Frank R. Wilson “has demonstrated a correlation between music study and muscular development, physical coordination, sense of timing, mental concentration, the ability to hold up under stress, memory skills, and vocal, visual, and aural development,” the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reports. Wilson points out that 90 percent of the cerebellum is devoted to the precise hand-arm movements necessary for playing a musical instrument.
In the Arts Education Policy Review (July 17, 1998), Shaw and other researchers write, “Recent studies have demonstrated that sophisticated cognitive abilities are present in children as young as five months. Similarly, musical abilities are evident in infants and neonates. Music then may serve as a ‘pre-language’ (with centers distinct from language centers in the cortex), available at an early age, which can access inherent cortical spatial-temporal firing patterns and enhance the cortex’s ability to accomplish pattern development.”
Even without the neurological evidence, educators know that different children learn differently, and that the arts can be a way to enhance creativity in high academic achievers and stimulate the learning process in children who otherwise might be left behind.
In 1983, Harvard University Professor Howard Gardner introduced the now widely-accepted theory of “multiple intelligences.” Gardner says there are at least eight forms of intelligences: language, logic, musical, spatial, bodily, naturalist, interpersonal and intrapersonal. “A good educational system ought to nourish and nurture the range of intelligences, which include several featured in the arts,” Gardner recently said. “Otherwise, we will be neglecting important forms of human potential and stunting the cognitive development of youngsters.” All youngsters, he argues, should be exposed to such important creators as Rembrandt and Picasso, Mozart and Duke Ellington, Shakespeare and Toni Morrison. He also favors encouraging each child to master a single art form well enough to be able to create with it–not only as a means of creation, but as a way of learning about the world.
Indeed, arts education is not only important psychologically and neurologically, but culturally as well. Alexandra York, president of the American Renaissance for the Twenty-First Century, contends that fine arts training can “help children develop emotional and moral sensibilities and the discipline that goes with mastering a craft.” Her organization wants to make fine arts a mandatory part of every school’s core curriculum. ” Art education is not a luxury, it is a spiritual necessity,” she said, quoted in recent Indianapolis Star editorial supporting arts spending. “At its apotheosis–aesthetically, philosophically and psychologically–art provides a spiritual summation by integrating mind and matter. Thus it is the very souls of our emotionally abandoned, value-starved youth that we can rescue through art education–one at a time.”
Despite the importance of the arts to learning, arts education has experienced debilitating cuts over the past two decades. As many as one-third of the nation’s public school music programs have been dropped, and many more programs throughout the country remain in jeopardy. For example, in Milwaukee, budget cuts mean that “many students in the city’s public schools reach their teen years without ever having touched a musical instrument or paintbrush,” according to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Even as the economy has rebounded, increased demand for smaller class sizes and computers have prevented the full recovery of arts education.
Yet, the nation is experiencing signs of a fragile renewal of arts education–one that could dissipate without additional public and private support.
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