Encourage young artists, don’t criticize them

One of my favorite recent art works I created...fitting for how I felt about art back in elementary school.

One of my favorite recent art works I created…fitting for how I felt about art back in elementary school.

I almost never became an artist. When I was in elementary school I hated art. I was convinced I was the worst artist in the world and in a report card of all A’s, art was often my only B and once I even got a C. So why was elementary art so awful? Simple, because of my teacher.

I won’t say that my art teacher was a horrible person, she was just not encouraging, at least to me. She often yelled at me because I wanted to “copy” things rather than come up with my own ideas. She thought that we should all just dream up a picture and put it on paper. I couldn’t do that very well. Perhaps because of my Asperger’s Syndrome (which I didn’t know I had at the time). In fact, I still can’t normally create art just from the imagination (with the exception of some abstract work). The way I work is to see something that grabs my eye – a picture, a person, a scene – and then I take that idea and I draw it the way I see it. It always turns out far different than the original idea, but I do need that original seed of an idea to start with.

I remember clearly one time when we were supposed to be freely drawing from our imagination in class. I sat there stumped as usual, with no idea what to draw. Then I looked at a friend next to me who was drawing a picture of two girls on top of the world. I liked the idea, so with my friend’s permission I did my own version of it. When class was over and we turned in our pictures, the girl and I both had to stay after class because the teacher wanted to know who “cheated” off whom. I remember thinking, “Cheated?! Who cheated?”. She scolded us both and told us to never do it again.

This teacher also often commented how I was “not the great artist your older sister is!” One time she even told me that and made me stand in the corner because I wasn’t “trying hard enough”. Craft time was hell too because I didn’t have the best coordination and my crafts often looked a mess. Again, I would either get yelled at or just get a big disappointed sigh. I got the message loud and clear, again and again. I was no good. I had no talent.

So how did I finally rediscover my artistic side? Well, that I owe to another teacher, someone entirely different. When I got to middle school, my art teacher encouraged me. She showed me how to draw certain things if I didn’t know how. She helped me come up with ideas if I was stumped. She told me how good things looked and encouraged me to try new things without yelling at me if they turned out poorly. In her class I never got a B or a C – all A’s. And I’ve enjoyed art ever since.

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5 thoughts on “Encourage young artists, don’t criticize them

  1. Having been an art teacher, I want to offer my apologies for that bad teacher. When my son was in first grade, his teacher was not happy with him for coloring his apples outside the outline she provided, and making them green instead of read. It so happened, I was in the habit of putting yellow apples in his lunch. He’s all grown now, and a good artist. I’m so glad you finally found a good art teacher and kept at it.

  2. I wholeheartedly agree that children should be encouraged in their creative endeavors. Art has always had a huge impact on my life, and I am so grateful that, because my dad is an artist, I was always encouraged to just keep drawing and always had something to strive for (my dad is a much better artist than me, in my opinion). It saddens me that there are people who would discourage someone from exploring their creative side, which I rely on heavily for myself. But I am glad you have finally found the artist in you! 🙂 Keep it up!

    -H.D. Hunter
    hdhunter.wordpress.com

    • Thanks for reading and commenting! You are really lucky to have had such a creative and supportive dad! I really do think encouragement and support make all the difference when it comes to doing anything you love.

      • Funny enough, my dad actually refused to teach me how to draw. I asked him to show me how once, and he told me to figure it out myself. And because I’ve always wanted to be as good as him, I just kept drawing and haven’t stopped. Haha. But he did praise and support my venture, and that did make a world of difference than if he had simply told me to stop trying. 🙂 It also helped to take his refusal as a challenge.

        When it comes to creativity and doing something you love, don’t ever let anyone tell you you can’t do something, and if they do, do it anyway, and prove them wrong! 🙂

        I can tell that you are very passionate about art yourself, and I’m glad you didn’t give up! 🙂

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