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When I was young, I loved to draw and had a real sense of art appreciation. I even took an art class in middle school where I was able to try my hand at all types of art, including sculpture. It was that art class where I decided I was “no good” at art and never tried it again. Art teachers in introductory art classes should not give grades on art based on skill but on effort!
It wasn’t until I was almost 30 years beyond that class that I ever thought about art as something I could do. As I was approaching my 40th birthday, I had fallen into the habit of watching old Bob Ross shows on PBS and decided that for my birthday, I wanted to try my hand at oil painting. So, my husband bought me all the supplies for my birthday and I set to work ruining a few canvases.
It was wonderful and freeing and extraordinarily fun to see what I could create – to have no rules about what, or how, I painted. My kids were excited, and wanted to paint too. I could have said no, that this was mommy time – and there were days when I would say, “Not today. I really need to escape for an hour.” Most of the time, though, when I was painting, my kids were right there with me, with their own sets of paint brushes, paints, pallets and easels. There were no rules, no requirements to what or how they painted, and no worry about the mess, as we typically went out on the front porch where we could be inspired. Both of the kids really loved the experience. In fact, understanding how to paint and the way colors could mix made my kids more curious about art in general. It was also a great way to build their confidence.
To foster their sense of art appreciation, my husband and I began taking them to art museums and galleries. We were living near Corning, New York, so had easy access to the Corning Glass Museum as well as a number of Market Street Galleries. We also traveled regularly to Montreal, where there are a number of galleries along Rue St. Paul. Our daughter, who was in fourth grade, completed a unit on great artists and we discovered the Munson Williams Proctor Museum of Art in Utica, New York where we were able to see work from famous artists like Thomas Cole, Georgia O’Keefe and Picasso.
To foster a sense of art appreciation in kids, you simply need to let them see and experience art!