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Encouraging Your Budding Little Artist

Watching your child expressing herself through painting and drawing is wonderful. As your child grows up she will continually explore and experiment though painting and drawing if she enjoys this medium. There are many artistic activities and materials that you can introduce to her over the years, to nurture her creativity.

When your little one is still a small infant the initial scribbles and marks she makes is the start of her creative expression and also the beginnings of learning to write. Once you have given her the tools you can then just give her bags of encouragement.

The following are some tips to get your little one off to a flying start, things to say and not to say plus the developmental stages to look out for:

  • When your child is about twelve to fifteen months old give her jumbo crayons, washable paints and markers with large brushes and heads to make marks with on plain paper. At this age she should have stopped putting everything in her mouth and is beginning to understand that these tools make marks on paper. Avoid the small water colour paint palettes as these are for older children
  • Let your child make her creations on large pieces of blank white paper so that her movements can be unrestricted, freer. You can put plastic or old newspaper underneath to help soak up spillages
  • You do not want your child to worry too much about making a mess so use washable pens and paints and cover her clothing with a baggy old top
  • Allow plenty of time for her art activity and spend time watching and smiling which will encourage her
  • The comments you make should be are open-ended and encouraging for example, “Wow, I love those blue curvy lines” or “that is fantastic, really interesting!” When your little one is older and can talk you can ask her to tell you about her drawing. Do not tell her what she is drawing or what colours she should use. Let her tell you about what she is creating if she chooses to. Let her be free so do not force an idea on her, she should be drawing or painting freely from her own mind. It could be that she is just enjoying the colours or marks and lines she is making and does not have a picture in her mind

Artistic Development – The Stages

Stage 1: Random, uncontrolled scribbling using large movements from the shoulder. One or two hands may be used and crayons are usually held in a fist grip

Stage 2: Controlled scribbling, marks are repeated like irregular, open circles, curves, vertical and horizontal lines. The crayon, marker or brush may be held by the thumb and forefinger

Stage 3: She will begin to name her creations even though they are unplanned. The image she has created could represent people, objects or pets as examples

Stage 4: At this stage your little one starts representational drawing for example a sun, so an irregular circle with rays sticking out of it. Or maybe a circle with human features inside the circle or sticking out of it

Stage 5: Here you will see her making developed representational drawing and this means planned ideas that she puts to paper so more detail, control and colour usage. It does not matter if the colours are not realistic

If you think your child is artistically inclined then to encourage and nurture her development is a wonderful gift to give her. Each child has their own unique creative spirit which needs to be nurtured so that she can utilise it to help her express herself in a free and unlimited way.

By Eirian Hallinan

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