Amrita Rao, a Bangalore-based self-taught artist, thinks a little differently. She believes that art classes are not necessary unless a child has exceptional aptitude or displays keen interest and says, “For conventional art, perspective, relativity and balance can be learnt in a class. For abstract art, creativity does not need any coaching!” Most children start with classical art (well defined objects) and move on to abstract, contemporary art, as they grow older and become more adept with techniques in art.
What to look for in an art teacher
Most practitioners, parents and children agreed that an art teacher (like all teachers) needs to be, patient and kind.
It is also important that the teacher goes beyond techniques to approaches. For example, rather than merely instructing the child to paint a petal in a certain way, the teacher should encourage him to observe a petal and then render it using his creativity and imagination.
A red flag is the art teacher who is a great artist himself and is quite caught up in his talent. Jay had an art teacher who would not let him hold a pencil more than a few minutes. The art teacher was “phenomenal in art but I found that I myself learnt nothing because he would go on and on himself.”
Children take to different art forms at different ages – your child may like painting more than play dough to start with, but as she matures, may take to sculpting. Jasmita Ahuja, a New-Delhi based homemaker, was well aware of her son’s adeptness with crayon and pencil colouring and was pleasantly surprised with the results he produced with water colours when he was just 10. The child can pass through phases of wavering interest in a medium or inconsistent technique. No cause for alarm!
As the child grows
Clearing the air
- The most common misconception about art is that it is a visual concept; this is probably why we are always preoccupied about how “correct” or “realistic” a picture or sculpture looks. But most practitioners state that art is not just about lines and colours, it is about imagination and feelings too.
- If your child is inclined towards art more than any mainstream subject, do not despair that he has chosen a ‘no scope’ area. Professions like architecture, graphic design, publishing, and advertising require people with strong artistic skills. Do refer to the Cross Roads article in ParentEdge’s September-October 2012 issue for more details.
- The ability to copy artwork is not necessarily a sign of a great artist. It may be alright to replicate a painting the first few times to understand how to use colours, and the play of light and shadow. Beyond that, there is a danger that the child may get too used to just copying and not use his own instincts and observation skills.