Tuesday, October 18, 2016

creating with a kid: how to cultivate drawing

In my opinion, drawing is a really important part of the creative process and sometimes I think it gets overlooked because painting, making a mess and mixed media techniques are so much more FUN! But drawing is a wonderful skill- It is simple and can done anywhere. It is a great way to explore ideas and tell a story. It enables you to process and get your emotions out. It teaches you discipline and patience. These are all reasons why I go out of my way to foster Lucy's interest in drawing. It hasn't always been easy but now at five years old, she love to draw and uses it a variety of different ways!

Today I've got a handful of the best tips I can give for cultivating drawing in your child.

lucy drawing from Alisa Burke on Vimeo.


My long time readers know I've been making art with Lucy from day one. From riding on my back while I filmed online classes to letting her create with me in the studio, it's been a priority to share the art making process with my daughter. As I have mentioned in the past it is important for both my husband and I to incorporate Lucy into as many creative projects as possible. And while it makes no difference to us if Lucy grows up to be an artist, we do want her to be a creative thinker. I believe creativity and the ability to think in a creative way is one of the greatest gifts we can give our children and while I am always evolving as an artist and mama, I am learning so much as I watch her develop her own voice. 

Not everyone is able to start their kids drawing when they are young but in my opinion, this is the best way to get them comfortable with the process. I introduced drawing to Lucy between the age of 5-7 months old. At first she just tossed around markers and spent a lot of time playing. Then she starting scribbling with the pens and slowly, very slowly she began drawing. Now at five years old, the process is very familiar to her and while there are all kinds of things she likes more than drawing (legos), she really enjoys taking time every day to draw.

  lu drawing 13 months from Alisa Burke on Vimeo.

NOTE: I know that not everyone is able to start their kids drawing early- to be honest, I know there are also a lot of adults that are not comfortable drawing. To you I say just make it accessible if there is interest from your child. I showed interest in drawing from a very early age and while my parents are very creative, neither of them knew how to draw but they always made sure there were supplies available and time in the schedule for me to draw.

I think it is so important to keep supplies on hand and within reach for kids. During the early years, I let Lucy experiment and play with my pens, markers, pencils and watercolors. I kept them in easy to reach places so she could access them when she was interested. Now we shop for supplies together and spend time at the art supply store talking about how she might use something new. We also have places (in her room, in the kitchen and in my studio) where we keep her very own supplies that she is responsible for.

This is actually some of the best advice I can give for anyone who wants to cultivate drawing, regardless of age! Making time every day or a even few times a week just for drawing, is one of the best ways to get kids comfortable with the process. I've found that when we get busy, time for drawing can get pushed to the side and Lucy has a harder time starting back up again. But when she gets back into the groove, she is so happy! Drawing is a skill that requires practice and commitment and making time (even 15 minutes here and there) will create interest and dedication.

Even though we try to make time in our daily schedule for drawing, I also like to give Lucy independence and freedom. Instead of always telling her where and how to draw, I like to give her the choice, with no pressure. Instead, I like to invite her to draw and I give freedom with materials. I also invite her to be part of my own drawing process (even work in the same surface). The result has been a no pressure environment when it comes to drawing!

As someone who teaches art for a living, I've had to find a balance between telling Lucy what to do and letting her make discoveries on her own. Thankfully I am a teacher who believes in a "hands off" approach. I like to demonstrate all kinds of techniques and then let students decide what appeals to them. I strongly believe that regardless of your age, some of the most profound creative discoveries happen when experimenting on your own and without a teacher correcting or criticizing you. This is how I have tried try to foster Lucy's drawing process. When drawing, I will only show her how to do something if she asks and even then, I try to demonstrate things in a variety of different ways so that she can figure out what appeals to her process and style. 

Something I know all too well from a lifetime spent creating, is that it's easy to feel like drawing means you have to make something perfect or "look the way it is supposed to". The last thing I want to do is put this pressure on Lucy! Instead, I like to take the pressure off by encouraging and embracing drawing anything, any way that she wants! From scribbling to drawing a dog with 6 legs to coloring the sun purple, I always try to support everything that she draws. Over the last 5 years, this approach has created confidence and ease in Lucy's drawing process.

You can check out my entire series of Creating With a Kid HERE


Elisabetta Brustio said...

Unbelievable!She isalready a small Alisa miniature!
Has an idea already well defined in the paper space, the special ... is very good!

Incredibile! E' già una piccola Alisa in miniatura!
Ha un'idea già ben definita dello spazio della carta, dei particolari... è bravissima!


Someone said...

With 5 - 6 month!!!!! You are such an "awesome" mom, making your kid stepping into your own path.It looks as if she does not have an own mind with own interests.
Poor lucy must have been much under pressure to create something perfect/beautiful while get filmed.
*shakes head* -we will see the result one day.

Someone said...

And why you even think growing ONE kid makes you privileged to give such advices. You do not even know if Lucy one day really will be gratefull for how you pushed her into *artist*life.

Anonymous said...

I think it must be so much fun and joy to have art in your life like this from a young age.

I know you have said on instagram that you didn't really want to do the very technical stuff in your classes. However, I wonder if you would consider a class/classes on boiled down rudiments of perspective/proportion and even more than those, on composition. I don't have much of a clue on any of those and it is luck more than judgement when stuff comes out ok. I wouldn't want it to be too much in depth as then I would be out of my depth, but a general distillation that would help simplify these things would be wonderful. I've just done a picture with a huge cat trying to fit under a tiny tree and with giant flowers! It's nice for all that and I did have fun, but could use a little help. I would so much love it if you could consider it. Thank you :)

alisa burke said...

I do appreciate your opinion and next time you leave a comment like this I'd love if you actually left your name or even sent me an email so we could have a good conversation about our differences! While I agree that you'll never know if a child will grow up appreciating something a parent introduces to them, Lucy has never been "pushed", in fact she loves drawing BUT she loves other stuff even more like Legos, taking care of animals, taking care of sick people, gardening, putting on musicals, dressing up, reading, math and general kids stuff- she wants to be a doctor or a nurse when she grows up which has nothing to do with anything we've introduced to her! As far as what makes me "privileged" enough to give advice...I'm an art teacher, I've been teaching for the last 20 years and I've taught drawing and painting to kids, teenagers, college students and adults and what I have learned over and over again is that art makes people happy, it changes lives, it heals, it opens people up, it connects, it sparks ideas and IT'S FUN. And if I've "pushed" Lucy into that all stuff then YES I'm guilty!!!

Ronda said...

It has been an absolute joy to watch Lucy grow. Thanks, Alisa

Anonymous said...

I don't agree with you at all. This is the opposite to what Alisa says she does. The post states that her daughter makes art when she wants to, if she wants to and the way she wants to. Alisa facilitates that desire to create if and when she wants to and provides the means. I wish I had that in my background from my own parents.

I think it is very evident from various posts that her daughter has lots of interests and a mind of her own. If you tried one of Alisa's classes you would see that they are so helpful, yet with no pressure or demands made. In fact my approach to art has entirely changed thanks to her and in an entirely positive and de-stressing way. The art I now make is joyful and fun. The choices are ours to make and to decide upon, her advice is given without ever being proscriptive. That is why I love the classes and any child could not help but benefit from such an approach to life and art.

It is our job as parents to provide things to stimulate children's minds and creativity. Having art supplies on hand does this and is just one thing in a child's life. It's no different from having toys or books around. Nothing else than that and with no pressure to 'perform'. I think you have read a different blog post to me to come to any negative conclusions.

A very fortunate child I would have said.


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