In today’s word of images, we know how much they impact us. Visualization is used to sell, motivate and facilitate everything from automobiles to toothpaste. We paste icons and logs on clothing, business cards and bumpers. We react to colors of team sports, gay parades and political parties. We are submersed in the world of art. However, we teach STEM to our children at school: Science, Technology, Education and Math. All of these are left brain. Left brain that description of imitate, follow, judge and criticize.
Most art classes in schools are the first to be removed when the budget needs a cut. When schools want to raise funds they enlist the donations of artists to sell and donate a portion of their sales to the school. Children are taught to “follow and behave.” There is little room for “creation and making a mess.” Paints are rejected because they may stain the carpet. Crayons are wrapped up in paper so that the tactile feeling of greasy wax is replaced by clean dry paper.
All children like to create. It is only after the exposure to criticism and critique that we take the “art out.” The child learns that what he does doesn’t matter. It is with focus and exploration that the child begins to see that they too are responsible for the act of creation and expression.
Parents are at a loss with how to entertain their children. Sports are good to teach left brain and gross motor skills like running and throwing a ball. Art as in painting, sculpting and playing musical instruments develops the fingers and fine motor skills. When children are loud and out of control it is easy to take away all the colors. Art therapy teaches that with colors, paper and time the child quiets and calms -even if the beginning was loud and messy.
In art we learn a language. There are relationships and connections. Shapes, colors, lines and movement help us to see the world through a different set of lenses. Suddenly a child may notice the colors of the leaves on the tree or how to tell their friends what color their cat is. In art we learn to ask for what we need, “Can you pass me the red crayon, please;” and ask for help, “how do I make gray?”
Problem solving is another aspect of art that is forgotten in scholarly articles. A child learns how to deal with frustration, “I made the wrong color;” or I wish I would have made it a different way but it’s too late now.” Children with guidance and acceptance learn that we all make mistakes. Most of our mistakes in life are not life threatening. After many years of frustration without insight the child learns that he is incapable and unqualified to “live their own life.”