Are you afraid of making mistakes? Were you afraid of this when you were a child? In teaching art to kids for over 30 years I have noticed, and also cited in research, kids up to a certain age have unlimited ambition and  nerve to try just about everything. Not afraid of a thing! Give them a pencil or a paint brush and they go to town drawing their little stick figures and proud of them!

Then, about late 3rd to 4th grade, that all changes. Suddenly they are looking at their table partner’s work and thinking, gee, mine is not as good as theirs.  They start looking at everybody’s work and deduce the same thing. Inhibition sets in big time and they start drawing smaller and smaller objects. They figure if they don’t draw big, they won’t be noticed and/or they won’t make a big mistake. My response to this is, I would not give you this big piece of paper if I didn’t want you to fill it. Give them some guidelines how to make their drawings bigger by setting expectation boundaries, this usually helps.

Up to 4th grade, unless you have a truly gifted child, most of them are still drawing stick figures and lollipop trees. There is nothing wrong with this, it is a developmental thing. They are stuck, however, in this mode unless they are given reason to change.  True, some creative children find the way on their own or they get a teacher who is art wise who can help them get over this. My observance from large groups is most students are still drawing tiny compositions on a larger piece of paper. It takes teacher persistence and specified tools to get students to understand how to draw something larger than a postage stamp.

A little side note here. I’ve always wondered about kids, why they draw these huge eyes at the very tops of the head. Then one day it dawned on me, through observation, when they are short, they see big eyes beyond the mouth and nose, they don’t see the top of your head. Your child is looking up at you. The laws of perspective put the eyes disproportionally  at the top of the head. That totally makes sense. An aha moment!

If you feel you are still stuck with this 4th grade art mentality, think back to when your uninhibited art drawing stopped, when your art learning stopped. If you don’t feel you are stuck, chances are you were the one the other kids were comparing to. There are so many adults that say, I can’t even draw a stick figure. This is probably why. So get a pencil, some art instruction books or YouTube and start practicing. You may surprise yourself! If you are satisfied being where you are, then that is fine. But since you are reading this commentary, something tells me you may be interested in learning more about how to get out of that rut. Not everyone sees things in the same way.

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