Children & Art

March 7, 2011

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At the easel – about to make some hand print art
Painting a group mural

All children are artists. 
The problem is how to remain an artist once he grows up.
– Picasso 

Discovering new ways to use a sponge brush!

The joy of creating

The studio wall – an accidental Jackson Pollock

This evening I was looking through some photographs from the past and began to smile…
I had stumbled upon some pictures of children who I had taught art to!

Teaching art to such young children is not quite the way I would describe the process. At this stage it is much more about accompanying the child as he or she explores the art materials. Most children are intuitively drawn to the vibrant colors, interesting textures, and other engaging qualities of art making. I was not an art therapist at the time (this was the year before graduate school), but I already had a sense for how powerful the creative process could be for the children as well as their parents. 

Although the class was specifically designed for children, I soon learned that the adults were benefiting just as much from the art experiences. At first, many of the adults seemed to need “permission” from me to create. Most adults had not picked up a paintbrush since they were their child’s age. However, I repeatedly saw how easily the adults began to “play” alongside their children once they felt a sense of safety and support within the studio.

It was not the children, but the parents who often need to be reminded about the “process over the finished product.” I often saw parents innocently putting finishing touches on their child’s art work. When this happened, I often asked if the parent would like his or her own paper to create on. This was not meant to embarrass them, but rather to provide them with an actual opportunity to create their own art!

By just witnessing (instead of altering) the child’s art, we give them the message that what they create has intrinsic value – whether it’s a single hand print on a piece of paper, or a painting that they have worked on for hours. 

Although I now do art therapy with adults, it is the inner child of the adult who I usually meet during the session. The inner child is often the part of the adult who has been neglected, overlooked, or in some cases – abused. For any adult, real healing cannot take place until the inner child has been honored and heard.

Future posts will explore some of the ways that art therapists work with a person’s inner child through art making and exploration. Stay tuned!

“Visiting” artist

Such intense concentration!

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