by Sarah Sivright
Every child is an artist, the problem is staying an artist when you grow up. – Pablo Picasso
By now you all have seen the big news of our new school. Our staff changes are exciting, too. I have known Joanne Esser, our incoming director, for many years, as a colleague and a friend, and I’m happy for us and for her in this new position. Though I will continue on at All Seasons, I will be ending my role as studio director after summer camp. That change will be hard for me.
Art has been a part of my life since I can remember. I always loved to draw and create hand-made cards, and still do. I took lessons after school at the “Art Institute” (MIA) as we called it back then. I graduated with a BFA from Carleton College and did free-lance art work in the years I stayed home with young children.
Then, a bit of a drought followed. When children were grown, I went back to graduate school, debating between choosing a program in fine art or early childhood. I knew if I chose an art degree, I would likely teach a large group of children once a week, but if I chose early childhood, I could incorporate plenty of art in my classroom, five days a week. There was some truth in that view, but art can take a back seat even in the best of programs, because there is just so much else going on in any given day!
Creativity takes courage. – Henri Matisse
Fast forward to 2008, when Amy invited me to help bring her amazing vision to life and start All Seasons. Imagine my astonishment when we looked at the early blueprints and she said, “Well, this space can be the art studio.”
And so it began—years of teaching small groups of preschoolers, toddlers and seniors, meeting them all where they are, and watching them learn and grow. And now I even work on my own art during the bi-monthly senior art classes.
Though I love the time spent with the seniors, it’s disheartening to continually hear, “I can’t draw,” “I could never do art.” (And these are the people who come to the studio!) Sometimes I copy their work into note cards, and when they are brave enough to actually send one to someone, they receive comments of praise and gratitude. This feedback is always a surprise, and it saddens me to see creative impulses—which we all have—discouraged forever because of experiences in the early years.
Your children may not be hearing negative comments from others, but sometimes they carry them in their own heads. The saving grace at this age is that when a child says, “I can’t do this,” and they hear, “Sure you can,” they’re likely to believe it. And they find they can, not necessarily because they are artistically gifted, but because they tried–maybe many times–and were encouraged along the way.
I encourage you parents to keep your own creative spirits alive, and respect and support your children’s—wherever it takes you.
If you hear a voice within you say, ‘You cannot paint,’ then by all means paint, and that voice will be silenced. – Vincent Van Gogh