What (if anything) would you do with an artistically inclined 4yo? - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 5 Old 03-14-2013, 08:32 PM - Thread Starter
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I've been wondering for a while now what, if anything, I should be doing for my DD. She loves to draw, and usually spends an hour or two a day at work. She has been on a big ballet kick for the last year, year and a half--last year, she was drawing lots of dancers from Midsummer; then we saw a lot of Nutcracker in the winter. The drawings are a little less elaborate lately because she's been on a writing kick, but still very detailed--toe shoes pointed, details on the costumes, 3/4 angle faces. And occasionally something that's not a dancer, like a bed or house. She draws almost entirely in black pen; we have markers and crayons and colored pencils out, but she really just wants the plain uniball pens.


At what age does it start to be useful to do serious drawing classes? Is that something that's even beneficial? I don't want to push her or suck the joy out of it, or expose her to classes that push formulaic work; but I am noticing how much she loves ballet, loves having a separate teacher, loves the specific things she is learning, loves working hard at something, and I am wondering if I should be looking into something like that for drawing now rather than at school age.



I'd love to hear thoughts from the mamas here--on art, on teaching art and whether it can be/should be, and when, on how to handle artistic asynchrony especially.




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#2 of 5 Old 03-14-2013, 09:39 PM
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I'd hold off on anything formal. Very often, bright young kids use art as a a critical thinking tool... a way to figure things out. Some use it as early storytelling. They can be very detailed, show movement, be very advanced for their age. Once reading and writing really take off, the drawing drops off for many. Basically, what you are seeing right now may be a display of her intelligence more than a destiny in art. I'd not want anyone interrupting her process with hows and whats quite yet as it may not be clear HOW she's using it.


Certainly support the interest. I'd encourage you to have her explain her art and write it on the bottom unless she's writing well enough to fully capture the story she's telling. She might enjoy drawing with a sharpie on water color paper and then painting it in after... it's a nice look and fun to do. Would certainly look nice with dancers. Seems like she has the tools and has the freedom to choose what she wants. Other than that, I'd wait on lessons.


You might do a study of Degas with her. He had a thing for ballet dancers too. It's not too early for ballet lessons either. ;-)

Married mom, DD 18, DS 15, and a Valentine's surprise on the way!
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#3 of 5 Old 03-14-2013, 10:40 PM - Thread Starter
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Really interesting. That's been my sense, that it's not art in itself that is a consuming passion, but intensity expressing itself in art. It's hard for me to know, though, which intensities to feed, and how. (At this age, DS wanted endless time to linger. That was much more straightforward to facilitate.)


She's been doing ballet classes for a year now; it's her enjoyment and maturity in the ballet class that made me wonder about drawing class. But I loved what you wrote about waiting to see how she's using it.


Hmm. Maybe I'll have her do clay classes, and weaving once she's old enough for the local studio.


Thanks for the perspective.



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#4 of 5 Old 03-15-2013, 05:49 AM
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I wouldnt do anything formal, but if you live near an art institute or museum they often have young kids programs.


My art loving daughters really really enjoyed the classes (that started at 4). They were not instructional, but rather exploratory.


They were able to use clay, try pastels, create a collage, and more. Before class they would go look at specific pieces in the Art museum that were similar to what they were doing that day. Some of the materials are ones they had never worked with before and they had so much fun!! I saw an explosion in their willingness and want to use more than just pencil/paper to create drawings.


We also had fun reading kids books about famous artists and visited the Art museums on kids day (days that are meant for kids to explore and be a bit 'louder').


It was great and they emphasized the 'process' not the product.



At 5, my kids took an afterschool art class that was horrible. It was instructional and did not really emphasize the creative process at all. =[


So I would simply try to find something for her to enjoy (or you could do together!)!

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#5 of 5 Old 03-15-2013, 10:30 AM
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Originally Posted by KCMichigan View Post

I wouldnt do anything formal, but if you live near an art institute or museum they often have young kids programs.




This is my suggestion too. My dc attended some good hands-on programs at the art gallery and museum when they were that age. Some of the more enjoyable programs encouraged them to explore with unusual or mixed media, like creating artwork with recyclables from the garbage or natural materials from forest walks or using nuts and bolts and scrap materials from a machine shop. 


They later participated in watercolour, animation, cartooning etc. programs that they enjoyed. These programs were good for developing skills but I don't think that's necessary at the preschool or primary age. As they get older, I found my dc wanted to develop their technique. These focused programs suited their needs at that stage. 

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