The Artist Within Each Child

This month I’m blogging about “different ways of seeing.” This week we’re taking a look at kids’ art.

On April 16th, as part of my A to Z posts relating terms from the arts to writing, I talked about the stages of a child’s understanding of art, culminating in the stage of “naming” – being able to tell a story about their scribbled art works.

One of my real-life friends, who follows my blog and often emails with great insights on the blog topic of the day, emailed that day with wonderful stories from her time as a preschool teacher. With her permission, I’m sharing some of that email, along with photographs of a few of the paintings created by her small students.

If encouraged, children can be so creative, and they seem to innately love making representations of the world around them. It is so important to give them the freedom to express themselves however feels “right” to them. It is far too easy to squelch that creativity. Colleen obviously knew how to encourage, judging from both her comments, and the kids’ art.

Colleen: I especially loved their art and drawing and painting (that was my specialty) and reading. I often tied the two together and was fortunate to end up with a lot of books that related to art. I always let them just ‘do’ what they wanted and when dry, would write on the back what it was – hoping to encourage the parents to talk to them about their art. I know for some children, it was always hard when their parents just kind of dismissed it and went on talking to the other parents. We underestimate the pride they have in those first lines and splashes.


Colleen: I also felt that after I gave them that first push of “do what you want” I could then suggest how to paint a tree or a rainbow or whatever without making them feel they couldn’t. We all need to learn to progress. I remember one little boy painted an all black rainbow (I had to think “it is a black and white photo”) and then tell him how good he did!!!  Who knows – I think he eventually moved up to a purple rainbow!!


Colleen: Some classes were just more advanced than others. At the end of the year I would buy plasticine and give them a piece of card paper and say make a picture. I was always amazed what they could do at 4!!!!!


Beth: I’m certainly delighted with the colors, the creativity, and the joy that shines forth from these pictures. It would be my hope for all children to have the opportunity at some stage of their development to have a teacher who is so enthusiastic about artistic expression, and who knows how to encourage each child. Thanks so much, Colleen, for sharing with us. (Stay tuned on Wednesday, when we’ll hear from two very creative kids – Erik and Josie!)


All artwork provided by Colleen, and posted with her permission. Thanks, Colleen!

18 thoughts on “The Artist Within Each Child”

  1. Joy is the exact right word, Beth. joy just shines from these paintings. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could all access that inner child, before we became self-critical and afraid of doing things wrong! 🙂

    1. Oh my yes. If we could hang on to that inner child, and the outward expression of that joy, that would be such a precious gift.

    1. Erik, Ms. Perras wanted me to tell you (and I quote) — “I read the reply from Erik and you must tell him his idea was great and I did do that. Not paintings, but I had the children put crayon to paper their first week of preschool and then again the last week of preschool, then at their ‘graduation’ I mounted both on construction paper and gave to the parents with the heading “look how far we have come”!! He is very clever to suggest that – – – I cannot wait to read the interview with him and his sister later this week!”

  2. I so wish I had some of my preschool artwork, or those early elementary years, when, just as with writing, one is less likely to conform to preconceived notions of art and form. These pictures are such a delight to look at, full of joy, as Susanna says.

    1. Wouldn’t it be great to have some of those things? I have a coloring book from my grandmother’s that was mine (I also have my cousin Greg’s) but free-style artwork would be more indicative of my love of expression when I was small.

      I’m glad you enjoyed the pictures. I was so happy when Colleen offered to share them with me!

  3. I loved getting art from daughter when she was smaller. She doesn’t do as much these days. I remember she did a big rainbow with thin slim markers and doodled something beneath it. I made sure that went up on the wall so she could see her hardwork proudly on display 🙂

    Now I try to make sure to keep paper, markers and crayons around in case she wants to draw. That way, she has the supplied available.

    1. Oh , it’s so important to do both those things — display the child’s artwork proudly, and make sure there are always art supplies available. Yes!

    1. I loved getting pictures from my honorary nephews when they were small — I miss that! Treasure those pictures, and those “people”! (I know you do!)

  4. Loved that you featured children’s artwork. The picture put a smile on your face. After my mother passed, I found a very large Mother’s Day card I made in a cedar chest. I drew a pictures of flowers, trees and a sun on the outside, and there was a cut-out silhouette of me around age six. It’s very fragile now. I remember presenting it to her with so much pride. Will look forward to the post with Erik and Josie!

    1. Oh how wonderful to find that card! Such things are priceless treasures.

      I’m so delighted that both Erik and Josie agreed to be interviewed!

  5. Kids have open, pliable minds. Our job is to encourage that openness, not squelch it. I had a group of women at a retreat do some fingerpainting. You should have heard the giggles.

    1. Perfectly put. And oh, it would be fun to see those women fingerpainting! It would be fun to DO some fingerpainting!

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