The Ordinary Artist
by Brenda Ellis
You may be wondering if the title of this article, The Ordinary Artist, is an error. Aren't all artists extraordinary? Isn't the gift or talent in itself a rare thing? Our world lines people up in order, from the first most extraordinary to the least original, least talented, or ordinary and then we tell everyone but the very best to go home, give it up, and do something else. But there is a problem with this fantasy that only the best can play. The fact is that real life does not depend solely on the best. Everyday I find that people of all types of talent have something to show me. I can learn from almost anyone. I ran into this as I was researching how to do a process called "wet felting". One extremely talented felter posted her creations on a blog. They were fantastic in form and I searched everywhere for any type of information on the process, but she wasn't a teacher or communicator so the information was not there. Later, I stumbled across a book at the library where the process was explained. The examples were not as breathtaking and just, well, rather ordinary, but the author included all the information and very nice pictures of the process so that others could do it for themselves. Both of these artists had something very valuable to give to the rest of us. So it does not matter if your child is ordinary or extraordinary when it comes to the arts. What each of us does with our artistic skills is unique when combined with other skills such as communication, ability to visualize form, ability to work within a specific medium, or abilities to create new and unique objects. Help your children understand that their talents are valuable. You can encourage this type of thought, by sharing your enthusiasm for the skills they spend time to develop. If we continue to let the world tell them that they are not good enough because they are not the best, then we allow others to steal what may be a talent that will become very important to us in the future. How do we encourage?
1. Continue to provide art experiences so that your child has opportunities to improve their abilities.
2. Never compare the works of one child to another's. Instead, discuss each artwork in equal terms by discussing the individual nature of each work such as subject matter chosen or colors chosen.
3. Don't draw, cut, or paint on your child's artwork. We think doing it for the child is what instruction is about, however, it robs the child of learning to do for himself. He misses experiences that help him to develop his skills. You CAN demonstrate drawing, cutting, or other techniques on a separate work of art.
4. Verbally compliment your child's art. Art is communication and children MUST know that what they say through art is understood and appreciated by another human being. If you can't understand their art, simply offer a compliment such as "I like these colorful marks in the corner." And then invite your child to fill in the story with, "Tell me about your picture."
5. Understand that learning a craft takes time and communicate your patience with the process to your child as he or she brings their doubts up in conversation.
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