Just because you can’t draw, sculpt or paint does not mean you don’t have creative gifts, talents, and ways you can express yourself that will bless those around you. There’s a difference between creative and artistic expression!
Growing up, I never thought much about art since I couldn’t draw. My best friend was an amazing sketcher so since I could barely draw a stick boat on water, I didn’t think I had it in me. It wasn’t until I was older that I realized that one can be creative without being “artistic.” Or rather, that one can be creative without knowing much about fine art. Now I am constantly creating things. I sew, do multiple DIY projects around the home, garden, write and love decorating. I am not an expert or extremely skilled in any of those things, and yet I love the act of creating. And after my projects are over, even as I look at the imperfections, I feel extremely proud of myself. Our children need to feel that same feeling, and they may need help getting there.
Creative (adj): relating to or involving the use of the imagination or original ideas to create something
Artistic (adj): conforming to the standards of art; satisfying aesthetic requirements
The point isn’t to debate about the use of adjectives, but to help remember these things when it comes to our children. Maybe one has an amazing ability to draw and paint and so the others don’t want to bother. Who wants to attempt a still life next to Rembrandt? If you have a natural-born artist in your brood you may have to work harder to get your other children creating, but it will be worth it.
What can we do so that kids don’t think they are only left brained?
1. Creating anything is being creative
I believe the most important thing we mothers can do is to cultivate a creative environment for our children so they can discover their own interests. Creativity simply means creating something outside of ourselves. This morning my kids played with Play-doh at the table for nearly an hour. They created balls and carrots and crowns. Whether it’s a traffic jam with the train set or sandcastle in the sandbox, creativity is takes place when we imagine and execute. Interesting fact, did you know that people who’ve suffered abuse and trauma often temporarily lose the capacity to create? Creativity sessions are even used as therapy because they awaken the deeper parts of us that can lay dormant if we just watch TV all day.
2. Just because you can’t draw doesn’t mean you aren’t an artist
You may have a truly artistic child, one who can draw, paint or sculpt with a talent that is foreign to you. I believe this is something to cultivate in them, though it will probably seem scary if you are not quite so artistic yourself. Maybe we could say an artist is someone who specializes in creativity. While I don’t think it matters how you describe yourself, I think it’s important that children who can’t draw well don’t feel shut out from the world of art. In my hometown there is a man who creates sculptures from scrap metal. Women playing banjos and loch ness monsters can be found scattered at the edge of the woods on various roads. You can pass by without noticing the rusted sculptures, but if you do see them you will pull over and go look. Why? They are creative, they are interesting, they beg a reaction (whether good or bad) so they are art. Don’t let your children feel relegated to the world of math just because they aren’t good with a paint brush.
3. The output isn’t so important
If you are a Type A like me (God help us all) then the output is often where we. Heaven forbid they color outside the lines or build things that don’t “make sense.” I believe creativity is soul enriching and therefore we need to give our children some space to be. When we come back and get my daughter after her independent play time I often find her in a completely different outfit. The other day I found her in a hat, swimming goggles, no shirt, leggings and her brother’s ducky slippers. She is happy, she is proud of herself and I know she has spent a while choosing her favorite items. Getting dressed is a form of creativity, don’t you think? Sometimes she only wants to stamp with her fingers or only use one crayon, so we let her be. The result isn’t nearly as important as the process in creativity, and that is evidenced by the fact that we feel better after doing it no matter the result. Try to just let your children do their own thing without showing them the “right way.” If you do that too often you may find their lose all enthusiasm for creating.
Upstairs on our landing I have an art gallery going with all manner of my daughter’s creations. Painting, gluing, glitter, feathers, and a crown adorn the wall. I always say I am proud of her creations and we hang the pictures up together. Today, when she was playing with her Play-doh she said “Look what I made, mommy! When I’m all done, we’ll hang it up because it’s beautiful.” She is valuable to me so, even if she may not be the next Picasso, I want her to continue to feel her efforts are appreciated. And I will do my best to appreciate them.
Related read: “I don’t want to stifle their creativity.”