“Creativity” article for The Shanghai Daily
We live in an ever increasingly visual and digital world. I believe passionately that a quality Art education is vital for young people to not only understand the world they’re viewing but to develop their own visual language in order to interact with it successfully.
A creative environment (be it a classroom or at home) should be a safe space for children to take risks and have their voices not only heard but encouraged. It is through positivity, reassurance and humour, that a positive climate can be created.
All skills develop over time and require practice. The more enjoyable we can make a creative session, the more likely a child will want to repeat the process. As a child gets older, it is motivation and resilience that will keep them practicing. Therefore, it is important that children know why they are doing something. “If we keep practicing gradual tonal change and accurate recording, soon you’ll be able to create a portait and then we can learn how to create expression!”
It is sometimes difficult to motivate children to be creative when they do not appear to show any interest in the Arts and would rather place their energy elsewhere (sports, academics etc). This is when it is most important to share the purpose of what we’re doing and find links to their existing interests. For a child who is very mathematical, creativity can come from rhythmic pattern based work including tessellations, rotations and repetitions. A child who is fascinated by science and dreams of being a surgeon can be persuaded into visual arts when highlighting the fine motor skills that are developed through paper cutting or origami; the same skills required by the best surgeons!
Looking at the work of others is often the most successful starting point when teaching or developing creativity. Whether its artefacts from other cultures, paintings from the 20th Century or installations from Contemporary artists, they will provide initial conversation and idea generation. This leads to the acquisition of a broad knowledge of cultures and artists as well as transferable analytical skills. Involving the work of others also provides context for the child; where do I fit into the Art World?
Through encouragement and purposeful direction, we can instill a love of learning and a lifelong appreciation and enthusiasm for the Creative Arts.