Today I did something that I don’t normally do. I drew. That’s right. I drew. Played with pastels, really. Threw in a little bit of sponge painting. Then glued some shiny stuff on too! And you know what? I HAD FUN! I have spent a lot of time searching for great books full of art ideas for children to explore, and I have certainly tried my best to supply interesting art materials and encouragement. And I have always proudly displayed children’s art, both at day care, and at home when children felt inclined to give me their creations.
But since childhood I have seldom sat down on my own and allowed myself time to simply create a drawing or painting, without worrying about what the end result might look like. I tend to struggle with the idea of things being open-ended, though this might be a limitation of my personality type. When I knit, I need a pattern. When I play an instrument, I prefer to have the music in front of me over improvising. Heaven forbid that I should risk cooking without using a recipe! When did I become so fearful about creating things? To be truthful, I can scarcely remember a time when I was fearless. So today, I decided to feel the fear and do it anyway – to do something creative and just throw myself into it like a preschooler would – no stopping, no making corrections, just going until it felt done.
And this is the result.
Peggy Davison Jenkins provides a list of the benefits of creative art experiences for young children in her excellent book Art For the Fun of It: A Guide For Teaching Young Children. I have adapted that list below. Today I learned that this list also applies to adults who have lost touch with their inner artist and are now ready to re-connect. Here is what art does:
Art develops my creative thinking.
Art gives me a way to communicate my ideas.
Art allows me to express my emotions.
Art builds my self-concept and my confidence.
Art helps me to understand myself.
Art invites me to see beauty in things around me.
Art enhances my ability to visualize.
Art teaches me to problem-solve and make decisions.
Art shows me the creativity of other people.
Art makes me a more complete person.
Art lets me understand other subjects like language and math.
Art strengthens my physical co-ordination.
Art encourages me to finish projects that I start.
Art helps others to understand and to help me.
Art gives me a sense of great joy!