What art does for us:
It has been a while since I have done art classes with children – I have been teaching adults, doing my own work and spending every spare moment helping to build our new art school. On Thursday, I did a parent child art workshop and helped a few days earlier with our Saturday children’s classes. It was so wonderfully refreshing to be back in the world of kids making art. They have a lesson to teach us all. And that is the discovery of our world is a life long adventure and art is one of the best ways to get the most out of it.
Here is a quote from the late Robert Hughes, one of the best art critics who ever picked up a pen, who was dedicated to the idea of art as something we need as human beings to be the best of who we are able to be and to revel in the best life has to offer.
The basic project of art is always to make the world whole and comprehensible, to restore it to us in all its glory and its occasional nastiness, not through argument but through feeling, and then to close the gap between you and everything that is not you, and in this way pass from feeling to meaning. It’s not something that committees can do. It’s not a task achieved by groups or by movements. It’s done by individuals, each person mediating in some way between a sense of history and an experience of the world.
The ability to be creative requires the acquisition of skills and the discovery of what one is really interested in, and then learning more about it and how to express it. A fine balance must be struck between the teaching of skills and the encouraging of self-expression. There is a great deal of current research out there which shows that fostering creativity affects behaviour, relationships, emotional expression, school, work and socialization in a very positive way.
In the course of my work and research as an artist, art teacher and art therapist, I have come to learn that the basic human impulse to play, ritualize and make special is the source of creativity and art, and, as we develop, it becomes more complex. Through it the individual evolves; through it the human ability to perceive is enlarged. Each of us uses symbols in art in a way that is personal and expressive of ourselves. A work of art is the maker’s vision: a refined, illuminated and even mysterious revelation and expression of his/her perception. The images we make directly reflect and influence how we think. Art enables us to show how we each perceive our inner and outer lives: what is important, what is not. We use the elements of our existence to do this. Art-making assists us in the lifelong resolution of reality and fantasy, what goes on around us and what goes on in our minds, and thus it fosters individual development and enriches our lives. I know this because of my long experience with art, children and people of all ages. Yet I never cease to be fascinated and enlightened by their discovery of themselves and the world around them through the creative process.
Why art? Because it’s fun and it’s beautiful and it makes you feel good. Here are a few images from our recent children’s classes that have been going on at the school. Certainly, watching them enjoying themselves and taking what they were doing very seriously at the same time, was an inspiration!