Welcome to the first FREE YourSELF Art BLOG!
Thank you for coming and now thank yourself for allowing this time for your inner artist to be freed!!! Watch my Facebook Page for mini sessions on Sundays between 2:00- 4:00- ish on how to find your inner artist, and YES! You can do all of it, and even share the experience with your kids, spouse and even your pets!
From my experience as a kid from the 80's and a teen in the 90's art and creativity were (and still are) relied upon in early education. As a teenager like many in those days, I worked as a baby sitter - always, always teaching mini art lessons and going on wild bike riding adventures! After graduating from Foothill Composite High School and then later, Alberta College of Art and Design (Now Alberta University of the Arts) -and a few jobs here and there, I decided to become an art teacher! And I'm SO GRATEFUL I DID!!
Through all of these experiences, I have met many, many people who believe they are not creative, or used to be and lost it somehow. Whatever the reason is, the overriding emotions shown are sadness, loss and yearning. And its just heartbreaking for me to see that. As art teacher for just about 20 years now, and nine years spent working in the preschool industry, I have seen how the arts focus in education, in so many ways slowly disintegrates from current formal education systems. I became obsessed with learning just how this has come to be!
Let the research begin and unfold...here is what I've discovered so far. Better grab a coffee- there is LOTS to read here folks! First, I've got a bunch of websites, articles, blogs and podcasts for you to enjoy. And then I'll come back to you with my own musings.
Toddler Ages 0-2
From www.PBS.org The Whole Child
"What's important in any creative act is the process of self expression. Creative experiences can help children express and cope with their feelings. Creativity also fosters mental growth in children by providing opportunities for trying out new ideas, and new ways of thinking and problem-solving."
Preschool Ages 3-5
Scholastics Canada: "The world of the preschooler is one of imagination and magic. For many children, their creativity will reach its peak before the age of six, after which it will begin to decline with the onset of formal schooling and the developmental drive towards conformity. However, supporting your child’s creativity in preschool sets the stage to foster its continued development in the years beyond."
Ages 4-5 Kindergarten
Fun Early Learning: "Research shows that children who are taught using hands-on teaching methods do better in school than those who are not". (Rock photo by Ekaterina Novitskaya in the Unsplash Community- click the rocks to see more of her work)
The Royal Society for the Arts, Manufacturers and Commerce In the most watched TED talk of all time, educationalist Sir Ken Robinson FRSA claims that “schools kill creativity”, arguing that “we don’t grow into creativity, we grow out of it. Or rather we get educated out of it”. Yet to Robinson, “creativity is as important as literacy and we should afford it the same status”.
"More and more kids start to show or not show a strength in fine motor abilities and/or interest in drawing, colouring, making crafts, creative thinking and outside the box, problem-solving. Widely celebrated by teachers for their communication skills, conflict-resolution and getting along in groups- showing leadership and self-confidence."
Edutiopia.org - Click the logo to listen to the podcast for parents-turned-teachers: "Inspiration That Works"!!!
Here is an excerpt I LOVED from this site!
"When Benjamin Bloom identified what he called the taxonomy of the cognitive domain, he ranked synthesis (creativity) as one of the most difficult skills to master because a person has to use all of the other cognitive skills in the creative process. Since, according to Bloom, creating is the highest order of thinking, it should be in the forefront of all learning environments and an end goal. When students create what they imagine, they’re in the driver’s seat."
Grade 6 (ages 11-12) At this age, kids are steered toward considering their careers by choosing their junior high electives. The Arts are NOT usually a focus for careers. And this is very unfortunate. Kids who have had the arts so far to help them become who they are get the message that they can't have it in their future. They are typically seen as extracurricular interests and hobbies. (e.g. Music, band, art etc.) Even though until this time, they were viewed as ways for kids to socialize and continue to strengthen lasting friendships. Despite being tagged as undeniably important to a person’s self-view and confidence – this sudden lack of seeing the arts as a career choice, begins to strongly instill doubt on how useful the arts are to a community, to society and to the world in general. Here is an excellent website for this age group and even as they hit teenage-hood. https://www.thebalancecareers.com/
"While even older students are not yet ready to settle on a career choice, it benefits children to begin thinking about all the options available and what goes into choosing a career. Know the correct way to do it, can help students avoid falling for all the career planning myths that could lead them in the wrong direction." https://www.edutopia.org/article/4-ways-develop-creativity-students
Grade 7-12 (ages 13-18)
TEACHER PAGE: Many elementary school students have benefited from current educational trends such as genius hour projects and problem-based learning, also known as PBL. However, by the time students reach middle school, there tends to be a sharp decrease in creativity-based lessons. Click the link or the logo!
Okay, now back to my musings!
And according to what you have learned or have been taught either directly or indirectly-- these are different things... By this stage in life, you likely either believe you have skills and talents in the arts, or you don’t. And perhaps you never will. But this is just NOT TRUE.
ACCEPTING LABELS… OR NOT
Those who have always been viewed as the ‘artists’ in class, or other social settings have been labeled and/or revered. And this can be great for boosting their/our self-view, but it also comes with a dark side… We can easily be generalized as outsiders, loners, and those who have just decided to join the creative world, may be labled as non-creative people or are “too late” to the game. I have met these people. And I only tell them that they are creative and that it's never too late! Alas, let me continue...
Kids in band/theatre/art class are typically labelled as the ‘geeks’, ‘snobs’ or given further labels such as dreamy, weird, unrealistic and eventually, the idealists who have succumbed to the exclusive “frills” that are The Arts. This negative connotation to the arts again, spreads the notion that the arts, in any format- are absolutely, unnecessary in life, in society and the economy. Take away the arts in the world, and we will lose society, community and our very own uniqueness. Seriously with the Coronavirus outbreak and mass spread... we are all being asked to 'be creative' with our approach to the new shift in our world and collective lifestyles as we move forward. Read this amazing article from AdWeek by clicking on the picture:)
Innovative problem-solvers aka Creatives have been expected to apply our special skills without recognition and heartfelt appreciation for our abilities for FAR TOO LONG now leading to vast undervaluing of skills and following this, our self-worth- compounding the general ‘belief’ that the arts are NOT necessary. They have merely been used for what is ‘needed’ and then cast way and ignored... alienating the members of this group from the economic world.
But NOW... it's our time to shine!!! And EVERYONE IS not only WELCOME to join in on the fun, everyone is expected to do so!!! The Party has BEGUN!
First off... DON’T DISREGARD YOUR INTERESTS!
Now, remember those who would like to join the arts, will try their hand at art in any form (likely comparing themselves to those in their peer/age group- regardless of that groups’ actual skills) ‘fail’ in their mind and they are then ridiculed for trying and their lack is celebrated- furthering the belief that the arts are exclusive – not inclusive.
If you or someone you know has had this experience, please know you are NOT alone. And I am here to help! The Arts as an industry has always been inclusive. Look back to ancient times - if people didn't innovate and find new ways to manage change, their very civilization would fail. Creativity is a part of the very fabric that makes us human and in some ways- superior to some of our fellow inhabitants. Intelligence in animals is measured by biologists and paleontologists by their ability to adapt to change with new behaviours. Look into the difference between creativity and innovation here: https://www.destination-innovation.com/what-is-the-difference-between-creativity-and-innovation/
And yeah, in some ways, the Arts get raised up on an imaginary pedestal – seemingly unreachable by those who have slowly been ‘taught’ they are not creative and thus- not able to ‘understand’ the arts. But this is simply not true. Did you know that the reason dictatorships are successful is because the masses are not permitted to have a voice, a say, an opinion or any form of self-expression? They are given a set of rules to follow upon pain of death, retribution, incarceration and the like – to keep the ‘train’ flowing. In other words, self-expression and individual thinking is denied.
Think of livestock… they are put into herds, put out to pasture, fed, watered, sheltered – controlled by the farmer/rancher. Of course, this is a somewhat unfair analogy. These animals have been domesticated over thousands of years and they wouldn’t survive without our direction and implementation of those controls. But, maybe some of us humans have been treated in this way too?
JUST KEEP THIS IN MIND...
Just follow the herd right? Ever go on a cruise, tour, field trip with your kids/grandkids? Listen, absorb, have your mealtimes dictated, follow the rules laid out for you. And yes, on tours we are not likely to know the safest and most educational way to enjoy our time away from our routines, so we hire directors, guides and coaches to help us out. Of course, these are indeed wise practices as we are learning from professionals and those with the experiences we need to proceed. And that's good!!!
Photo by Jeff Smith Photography. Click the bus to see more of his work.
Artists are not anarchists…but when we see injustice, we are moved to action.
Personally, with the heavy reliance on technology and constantly needing to ‘keep up’ with it, it is far too easy to follow the herd – without taking the time to think first. (Think on the actual dangers of too much reliance on WiFi, electromagnetic illnesses and the like)
I am always thinking. If you know me, you know this is true. I don’t relax well, but I do yoga and I meditate and I do draw well, teach well and consider many many new ideas on a regular basis – well. I also act on things pretty fast and easily get obsessed with seeing things through. I will stay up very late, work very hard and not get much sleep. I think that's my way of being human.
And that my friends, is who I am. I know me. I can express myself in so many creative ways, be it through drawing a portrait, a still life, sculpting out of clay, creating jewelry, carving a new design for a printmaking project, or bringing out my calligraphy and write something inspiring. I’m not bragging. I’m telling you this because I have dedicated my career to helping those around me find their way BACK to their inner artists. YES. I believe we all have what it takes to be creative.
Everyday, we are all creative, and so many of us probably aren’t aware of it. Or maybe you are, and don’t think you have the tools to strengthen that skill… or that you’ve somehow lost it.
I am here to tell you that you CAN reclaim your inner artist!!!
S/he is still there, waiting quietly to be given the freedom to express your thoughts, dreams and hopes for the future. S/he is ever present, trust me! You’ll be enlightened soon. And freed from the shackles of self-doubt. If you’ve ever said, “I can’t draw, or I can’t even draw a stick man.” Please stop. You don't need to draw stick people to be an artist.
An artists’ worth is not measured by an ability to draw a few lines and a circle. And unless you are in the industry of designing washroom icons and wet floor signs – there is no point in drawing them. So just for fun, you’re going to participate in what I call, an artist game.
It may seem silly and childlike- but I promise you’ll learn something of value today, AND you will probably never say again that you can’t draw. AND THEN... only if you want to... you will be able to draw all these fun characters too!!!
Thanks for reading all 2, 291 words here!
I hope you have found it useful and maybe even inspiring!!! If so, grab up some blank sheets of paper or pull out a sketchbook if you've got one,a pencil with an eraser and follow along next Sunday on Facebook!!!
Your Artist League Captain, Robin Thibodeau