Reluctant Artist?? What do you do?

It's week five of the Virtual Curriculum Fair.   This week.. it's all about art and beauty.  See in artistic forms of music, art, dance and whatever form that takes in your household.  
The VCF is hosted by Susan

Week One: A Time to be Encouraged.
Week Two: Language Arts: Our Style.
Week Three: Practical math.
Week Four: Exploring the World Starting with Canada.




Today my topic is: What to do with the reluctant artist?

I would never say that I am an artist, but I have birthed a lad who has creativity tied into his bones.   I've worked to bring that creativity into our schooling...and this year and finding myself tying it in however I can.

BUT in all his creativity he's a rather deliberate lad.  He hates, absolutely HATES to waste his time.   Despises it with a passion... which sometimes creates a reluctant artist.. What's a teacher to do?


Talk
1. Talk to your student.   You are looking for what is causing the reluctance. 
 a). The Style - realism vs abstract, 3-D vs 2-D etc.
 b). The Medium - painting vs drawing, colouring vs pastels, oils vs acrylics etc
 c).  The Topic - A river vs. mountains, a building vs a landscape etc

Discover
2. Discover what about the reluctance causes concern.
 a). Lack of confidence - has never used this medium/style/topic before and has no idea about how to use, approach or even if likes the idea.
 b). Medium not correct for the type of project - topic of discussion sometimes the student is correct!  And then changes can be made.   Or change the topic or style and suddenly the medium isn't so bad.
 c). Fear of wasting time - This one is hard to get past, but I have a method that is proving to at least raise more curiousity and help!
 d). Dislike of style and not seeing the point of it - often a matter of showing the student a wide variety in the style until something appeals.   I saw this recently in my class on cubism... one student could not get a handle on it until he thought about doing shades of black!  It worked and turned out well.  
 e). Wants a different topic - Let them choose the topic if possible, it's their art.  You can set the parameters and then let them choose what they can fit within that.
 f). Page size - could be too small, large, wide, narrow etc.   This is so easy to change, some students do their best work in miniature and other need to express themselves in wide open spaces.   It's relative.

Action
3. Take Action.  
  a). Remember that beauty is in the eye of the beholder
  b). Learning new things is sometimes difficult.
  c). Sometimes helping someone with a new form of art takes away the pressure of wasting one's time if it doesn't work out.

Let me expand on the latter idea.
My son and I were going to create an abstract mountain art work but okay... it was MY idea to do an abstract mountain art work and my son stopped dead in his tracks.  All he could see was the potential of failure.

So after talking with him through all the different steps, it's still all he could see was "it's not going to turn out and I'll have wasted all my time.".

We decided that he could do his own thing (he wanted very much to do a pencil sketch with shading) and that I could do the abstract art.  We work side by side so he can see me work and I can see him.  It's a great time to chat, provide encouragement and ask questions.  

So I sit beside him and I modge-podgy tissue paper to my page and I talk about how I am not sure if this colour goes there, or what do you think if I do this for the mountains, do you think making sticky-up flowers will work?  He starts off very hesitant at first, so I show him how to make flowers that can stick up off the page and how if I crinkle the tissue paper I give it more texture, and he watches and thinks.. and the next time I come back and talk he tears off a piece and says, "I think this colour would work there mom".   

And after some time we get this:
It's not done yet, the lad and I are currently discussing if I should cut out a picture of a canoe for the lake or do abstract drops of colour.   We've talked about the pros and cons off adding birds, or how to add texture to a tree trunk and how to make clouds seem more real.  And through it all we look at pictures of the Canadian Rockies and see what they are like and the animals that live on them and what not.  We learn, we talk and we complete "what might be a waste of time".    Over time you see, tissue paper art, of an abstract nature is not as weird or unknown and just maybe someday a lad might take a chance on doing something different with his art that's a bit out of his way of thinking... and that's a good thing.  For now.. he's helping, he's talking art and helping me see what works and what doesn't.   The fluffy clouds.... I started...he finished.  The tree trunk I did.. but he made the branches.  We discussed how to give the tree trunk texture and depth...our first method didn't work, so we tried another.

Is it great, out of this world art?   I don't know, and it doesn't matter.  What matters is this... it's fun, and we're both learning a ton!  :)

If you need inspiration to do art with your students, check out my art series that you can find here and here


Now I invite you to visit my fellow homeschool bloggers who are talking about seeking beauty in their homeschools:

Links will all be live by Monday at 12 noon EST.



22 comments

  1. This is a great post full of encouragement and specific ideas. Sometimes that is what is lacking when we share that something is difficult so thanks for including action items. And working side by side? That works for so many things! Thanks for sharing. - Lori

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    1. Thanks Lori. I really needed to stop and think about this one. Think about all the issues that have come up with the lad and with classes on art that I've taught. I just hope it's helpful. :)

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  2. I love the idea of working side by side with your son while creating your art together. He could see how it works without wasting his time. It's a wonderful way for him to learn, to be part of it, and to not be frustrated. Nicely done! And your project looks great! :)

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    1. Thank you Meredith, I'm finding it a lot of fun to work alongside him.

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  3. Great ideas to not just give up!

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  4. What a great encouragement post this is! I think it's great that you are working alongside him and enjoying the process. The project looks great!

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  5. I love your patience! I have one who wants her art to be perfect, and she gets so frustrated if it's not. Sometimes it makes me want to avoid art, but we keep trudging along. :)

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    1. perhaps she hasn't yet learned the imperfect works of art are options to turn it into something new. :)

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  6. Wow! This is so helpful! Thanks for all the great ideas.

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    1. thank you, glad I could be of help! :)

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  7. I've been lucky enough to not have truly reluctant artists, but they do sometimes get stuck on perfectionism or on not knowing where to start. Doing art by their side sometimes helps with that. Thank you for sharing a really practical guide. :)

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    1. you are most welcome... glad to know that side by side art works for your children as well. :)

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  8. Great ideas! I have't struggled with this, but my kids have been reluctant in other areas, and really, you can go through the same steps with anything. They may not every love it, but you can make it a little better.

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    1. it makes sense I guess, to use the method in other areas. :)

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  9. I needed to read something like this years ago. My mother is an art teacher so this was hard for us to swallow. My daughter just did not like to draw and paint. She didn't feel like she could do it (I now know) so she hardly ever do it. But put some clay or playdough in her hand? That she loves and it's like we're all just having an aha! moment about it all. Great post and great tips.

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    1. ah Kemi....I've learned...the medium makes a huge difference! It really does...but doing a side by side art thing...He's seeing different ways to try things and it's SO COOL to see him think ideas through as he helps his mom! :)

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  10. I have one boy that loves art and one boy that is very reluctant to participate in anything artsy or craftsy. I've discovered that to engage my youngest son I have to make sure that the technique makes it nearly impossible to get it :wrong"; so we focus on process more than the product.

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    1. I should have mentioned another. Method.... Doing with a group of friends... Adds different dynamic

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  11. I love your post! Your care and love for your lad really comes through. It all comes down to remembering to respect your child, I think. (and I really liked the art!)

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    1. thank you... trying to add an canoe yet...then I'll need to do a tutorial... :)

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Hi! thanks for stopping by. I love comments, it's good to talk with each other eh?