Today I am honored to have a guest post from Freddie Levin, creator of the 1-2-3 Drawing series for kids. I asked her for her thoughts on helping to inspire kids to be artists, even if they think they have no talent. This is what she had to say...
I am always amazed at the way drawing is viewed. It seems that people think it is something you are born with like the color of your eyes. It is true that some people have a 'natural' talent for drawing just as some people have a pleasant singing voice. That doesn't mean that everyone can't enjoy drawing and singing. There is an old saying that I love: if only the bird with the best voice sang, it would be a very quiet world.
I always ask kids if they can ride a bike or swim. Then I ask if they could when they were born. No, of course not - they LEARNED HOW. Drawing is the same way. It can be learned. No one would hand a child a violin and ask him to compose music or even produce a pleasant sound. It must be LEARNED!
Part of learning to draw is learning to see. The other part is making marks on a page. This has been true since the very first cave person picked up a piece of burnt wood and drew an animal on a stone wall.
The 1 2 3 Draw books encourage a child to look, to see and to practice drawing basic shapes. When you practice, you gain command of small motor control and eye-hand coordination. For very young children or children with poor motor control, I let them trace a cardboard shape so they can get the feel of the shape and the muscle memory of drawing it.
Dr. Suzuki of music lesson fame cheerfully says: Practice and Practice, never be lazy; Practice and Practice until you go crazy!
The other thing I encourage is looking at many different kinds of art. ''Realistic" art isn't the only kind of value. Children can be so self critical about their drawing because it doesn't look 'real'. They need to see abstract art like Mondrian, pure design such as Tibetan mandalas, whimsical work like Paul Klee and Miro, cartoons and so on. There is room for every kind of work of art just as there is room for all kinds of music, all kinds of dance and all kinds of people.
Most important of all, is that drawing should be fun. Don't afraid to be silly! Don't be afraid to be elaborate, or dramatic or outrageous. Don't try to be someone else. Nobody can make a drawing just like you and that's okay.