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Tuesday, October 18, 2016

creating with a kid: how to cultivate drawing

In my opinion, drawing is a really important part of the creative process and sometimes I think it gets overlooked because painting, making a mess and mixed media techniques are so much more FUN! But drawing is a wonderful skill- It is simple and can done anywhere. It is a great way to explore ideas and tell a story. It enables you to process and get your emotions out. It teaches you discipline and patience. These are all reasons why I go out of my way to foster Lucy's interest in drawing. It hasn't always been easy but now at five years old, she love to draw and uses it a variety of different ways!

Today I've got a handful of the best tips I can give for cultivating drawing in your child.

lucy drawing from Alisa Burke on Vimeo.


My long time readers know I've been making art with Lucy from day one. From riding on my back while I filmed online classes to letting her create with me in the studio, it's been a priority to share the art making process with my daughter. As I have mentioned in the past it is important for both my husband and I to incorporate Lucy into as many creative projects as possible. And while it makes no difference to us if Lucy grows up to be an artist, we do want her to be a creative thinker. I believe creativity and the ability to think in a creative way is one of the greatest gifts we can give our children and while I am always evolving as an artist and mama, I am learning so much as I watch her develop her own voice. 

Not everyone is able to start their kids drawing when they are young but in my opinion, this is the best way to get them comfortable with the process. I introduced drawing to Lucy between the age of 5-7 months old. At first she just tossed around markers and spent a lot of time playing. Then she starting scribbling with the pens and slowly, very slowly she began drawing. Now at five years old, the process is very familiar to her and while there are all kinds of things she likes more than drawing (legos), she really enjoys taking time every day to draw.

  lu drawing 13 months from Alisa Burke on Vimeo.

NOTE: I know that not everyone is able to start their kids drawing early- to be honest, I know there are also a lot of adults that are not comfortable drawing. To you I say just make it accessible if there is interest from your child. I showed interest in drawing from a very early age and while my parents are very creative, neither of them knew how to draw but they always made sure there were supplies available and time in the schedule for me to draw.

I think it is so important to keep supplies on hand and within reach for kids. During the early years, I let Lucy experiment and play with my pens, markers, pencils and watercolors. I kept them in easy to reach places so she could access them when she was interested. Now we shop for supplies together and spend time at the art supply store talking about how she might use something new. We also have places (in her room, in the kitchen and in my studio) where we keep her very own supplies that she is responsible for.

This is actually some of the best advice I can give for anyone who wants to cultivate drawing, regardless of age! Making time every day or a even few times a week just for drawing, is one of the best ways to get kids comfortable with the process. I've found that when we get busy, time for drawing can get pushed to the side and Lucy has a harder time starting back up again. But when she gets back into the groove, she is so happy! Drawing is a skill that requires practice and commitment and making time (even 15 minutes here and there) will create interest and dedication.

Even though we try to make time in our daily schedule for drawing, I also like to give Lucy independence and freedom. Instead of always telling her where and how to draw, I like to give her the choice, with no pressure. Instead, I like to invite her to draw and I give freedom with materials. I also invite her to be part of my own drawing process (even work in the same surface). The result has been a no pressure environment when it comes to drawing!

As someone who teaches art for a living, I've had to find a balance between telling Lucy what to do and letting her make discoveries on her own. Thankfully I am a teacher who believes in a "hands off" approach. I like to demonstrate all kinds of techniques and then let students decide what appeals to them. I strongly believe that regardless of your age, some of the most profound creative discoveries happen when experimenting on your own and without a teacher correcting or criticizing you. This is how I have tried try to foster Lucy's drawing process. When drawing, I will only show her how to do something if she asks and even then, I try to demonstrate things in a variety of different ways so that she can figure out what appeals to her process and style. 

Something I know all too well from a lifetime spent creating, is that it's easy to feel like drawing means you have to make something perfect or "look the way it is supposed to". The last thing I want to do is put this pressure on Lucy! Instead, I like to take the pressure off by encouraging and embracing drawing anything, any way that she wants! From scribbling to drawing a dog with 6 legs to coloring the sun purple, I always try to support everything that she draws. Over the last 5 years, this approach has created confidence and ease in Lucy's drawing process.

You can check out my entire series of Creating With a Kid HERE

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