Q&A with Carolin Part 6
“What is your opinion, on how to get children/young adults interested in art and art that does not involve technology? I would also like to know from whom in your family, Mom, Dad, etc. does your talent come from?” –Trish
What I hear implicit in your question is a valuing of the tactile and tangible aspects of art and a worry that kids these days are not exposed enough to these elements. I agree that there is a magic inherent in the things created through our hands, which gets lost in the digital art forms that most young adults interact with.
However, I am not sure if we need to actively set out to stimulate interest in them for this.
Let me get to the core of my answer through a scenario: think back to when you were a little child, let’s say around four to six years old. What memories stand out to you? One of the memories that comes back to me is the times I spent in our kitchen with our house keeper, baking cakes together. Another one is digging around in the dirt in the back yard with my sister and neighbors, making mud sculptures. Now, skip ahead to when you were around twelve. What comes to mind? What are vivid memories for you from that time? I am looking for the vibrant memories. For me, times of being in the barn with the horses stand out the strongest.
Why do I ask you to pull up these vibrant memories? Because there is something in them that strongly defines who you are at your essence. No big surprise, I am a hopeless nature lover and creator of things. Notice that I don’t remember standing in front of hundreds of master paintings from an early age on, even though I did go to museums as a child. It’s not a dominant memory.
I feel like young children have an innate sense for creating. Think of how immersed you were when you painted Easter eggs, or made some paper crafty things. It was just you and the thing you were making. Obviously I think it is hugely important to keep sitting down with the kids in our lives, pull out some paints, clay or paper and be there with them. Show them how to create something hand-made. They will run right along with you.
Usually when they hit the teenage years, all the fun of doing stuff together ceases. They want nothing to do with their parents. But I think inwardly they still do. This is why I believe it is less about “getting them to do something of merit” and more about how we show up in their lives. Do we engage in creative activities like cooking, baking, painting, writing, gardening and can they see that we are doing it? Do we have art in our homes that we appreciate on a daily basis? Do we go to art shows or craft festivals and take them with us? Even though they may outwardly reject it, when they become young adults they will remember and be able to draw from it.
I really don’t think it is necessary to conduct missionary work in the name of the arts. The kids who will become artists will find their way to it. It’s hard to say for me because I don’t have children, so I have to go off of my own childhood. I did grow up in a household with art on the walls and sculptures on the shelves. My dad would sit down with us and paint Easter eggs or show us how to draw horses. Every once in a while we visited art museums and frequently went to arts and crafts fairs. My degree of interest probably varied throughout the years, but it was just part of who we were. Because of that I learned that the arts are a huge resource in my life, even though my parents would never sit us down to lecture on the merits of it.
The second part of your question feeds right into this. Many of the paintings in our home were from my great grandfather, who was an artist, illustrator and engineer. I hoarded his sketch books in my room and when I was brave enough I would set out to copy his drawings. I am not sure if I believe in talent. But I believe in interest, passion and commitment to learning. I was drawn to my great grandfather’s work and had a strong desire to be able to have the same skills, which is what made me commit to study drawing and painting.
As you can see, art was all throughout my family, but nobody talked about it. So do we need to pull kids nowadays aside and talk about art? I don’t think so. But I do think that living the creator and appreciator parts of ourselves actively and visibly is a good thing. So maybe bring some teens to my next art show with you and we’ll infiltrate their minds ;)