Art is one of those things kids should just be encouraged to do. You can teach them theory till you're blue in the face, but if you don't let them hold a colored pencil, wield a brush, or imitate Van Gogh (except the ear-removing part), it'll fall on uncomprehending ears. Just as science is kind of dead without experimentation and observation, so art isn't a mere textbook pursuit to be read about and never practiced.
Edith Schaeffer wrote a superb little book titled The Hidden Art of Homemaking about the need for every Christian to imitate the Creator God by expressing their own creativity. She stresses that not everyone needs to be famous or make money from what they produce (not most, in fact), but that being creative and making art is an important element of our humanity.
We couldn't agree more. Kids need to understand that creative expression is a good thing when used to glorify God and encourage those around them, and that they shouldn't be embarrassed to explore and hone their talents. To that end, we're doing our best to offer plenty of tools and resources to help them do just that.
There's the tools themselves of course: markers, pencils, brushes, paints, etc., even an artist's smock for messy projects. Then there's the coloring books (a great place to start!), drawing and painting instruction guides, craft books, richly illustrated art history texts and artist biographies, pictorial explorations of great architecture, etc.
Some texts are aimed specifically at parents and teachers. Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain is a guide to moving beyond childish scrawls to advanced drawing techniques. Drawing With Children helps parents guide kids through the five elements of drawing, offering tips, advice, and exercises to help developing artists improve without getting frustrated.
The products from How Great Thou Art are instructional while helping kids relate art to a Christian worldview. This is essential: art is not created for its own sake, but for the glory of God and for the delight and instruction of others. We don't draw or paint or design just to entertain people, and if we do we need to reconsider what exactly it is we're up to. Teaching kids to keep things in perspective from the beginning is crucial.
Just letting your kiddos get their fingers smudged with markers and crayon shavings in their hair is probably the first step. Guidance is important in any pursuit, but so is the ability to try things, to fail, and to learn and do better next time. Supplies will help with the practice part; books, guides, and manuals will help with the getting better part.
Review by C. Hollis Crossman
C. Hollis Crossman used to be a child. Now he is a husband and father, teaches adult Sunday school in his Presbyterian congregation, and likes weird stuff. He might be a mythical creature, but he's definitely not a centaur.Read more of his reviews here.
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