A work of art is . . . a representation of the world outside of art--often the everyday social world. . . . [W]ithin general education, the purpose of art education isnotto induct individuals into the world of the professional fine arts community. . . . [It] is to enable individuals to find meaning in the world of art for life in the everyday world. --Arthur Efland, Art and Cognition
Children scribble because they like to move and manipulate different materials around. When they first make a connection between their random movements with a crayon and the marks that appear simultaneously on a paper, (or wall), they’ve made a leap. They are controlling apiece of the world, and they love it! Next comes the naming of the scribbles, then the long, fascinating journey toward drawing recognizable objects.
If children are encouraged in these efforts, no matter how clumsy, they will retain the confidence to love creating art. Art education, at best offers a window that allows children to peer at the world in a different way. Through exploration of different subject matter and access to many media, children gain in many ways. Exposure to art and creating it allow for emotional, intellectual, and perceptual growth.
A child who is provided with the opportunity and materials to create has been gifted with an invaluable emotional outlet. Through art children can express feeling. The act of drawing, painting, or sculpting channels children’s energy into creating, slows down the surrounding world, and allows reflective thought and self expression. Feelings of sadness or joy, pride, irritation, even exploration pour into the artwork, and so expressed state:
This is who I am.
This is what I like.
This is what I think.
Creating art, as well as looking at it, stimulates thought and curiosity.
How did the artist paint that? Why?
What is the artist trying to say?
How can I use that material?
Why does it work that way?
Can I try that?
The wonderful world of art and the problem solving skills intrinsic to creating it can stimulate intellectual development. Given the challenge of understanding an artist’s painting leads to interesting speculation, conversation, and attempts to grasp new and varied concepts. Given a design problem to solve, students utilize great creative exercises to deploy a solution. Exploration of new concepts, and with new art materials leads to greater understanding of the world, as well as the child’s ability to show how he feels about it. By learning more about what looks right and mastering materials, the child can be more expressive in the artwork.
Children are bursting with all the new things they are experiencing. Every day, so much to learn, to see-wonderful things, scary things, how good this day was or how boring. The ability and confidence to create allow them to explore all these multitudinous perceptions. Looking closely at the objects they wish to draw causes them to see in new ways. Using their hands to shape clay allows them to enjoy tactile sensations as they mold their thoughts. The bright colors of paint and the experience of mixing colors are a perceptual delight.
As we all learn by doing, art is an invaluable tool to growth. Art allows children to express how they feel about the world. Creating images allows them to order their thoughts, to interpret and record their own unique views on society, how they relate to others, and how they feel about themselves.
adapted from Patricia A. Carlson
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