Art. I'm not talking about museum-worthy art, or famous art, or even fancy art.
I'm talking about the creative act of making art, as a childhood rite of passage. Yes, even the celebration of their art by displaying it on your fridge. It shows that you value them, no matter what the "finished product" looks like!
Product-oriented art is that which focuses on a completed piece for display. As amazing as that is, the other type is process-oriented art, which I personally feel has more merit than ever before because the journey has so many messy lessons.
Aside from all the research validating why kids need art, I truly feel that art-making takes away the stress of the real world and lets a child be an innocent being. Oddly enough, people often don't participate in making art until they are out of the survival mode state of being. We must go beyond the monotony of barely treading water and truly search for life and connection. Connection can happen.
I've taught art for over ten years but I hadn't fully acknowledged the gifts of art-making because I overlooked them. Reflecting on art makes us slow down. We can start to notice and appreciate beauty all around us. God has placed us in the middle of a magnificent created place if we are paying attention. When we slow down from the fast-paced life and thank Him, we experience life. Each of us has value that makes us individuals and special. Robots cannot create art, nor do they have the capacity to feel as humans can. We truly can teach children to be more aware of their emotions and process through them by engaging in artful activities.
I've seen the most burdened children get completely lost in watercolors, crayons, markers. The adult problems that have been placed on their shoulders get pushed aside.
These moments are gifts of life.
Gifts of peace and joy. Innocence. No right answers. No wrong answers. Only feelings of release.
Bottled-up emotions flow. Art can be that liberation from rage, frustration or weary thoughts. All of this can happen even when the child doesn't know its happening.
Being engrossed in making art can develop a child's attention span and their ability to focus on a project from start to completion while editing along the way.
Making, planning and appreciating art teaches them procedures that contribute to an appealing and worthwhile end. Kids who are taught about cleaning up brushes , setting up painting area for creating, planning out supplies, and problem-solving how to store a wet picture get the gifts of big-picture thinking.
They get the benefits beyond the art! They get the life skills!
No matter how complex or simple, all art is art therapy! It doesn't have to be listed as therapeutic on a doctor's note. It is therapeutic because it is about connection and using our human creativity as a release. We can find ourselves.
Dr. Brene Brown talks extensively about the value of play. Art is thinking, creating, exploring, problem-solving and PLAY all wrapped up in a purposeful package, which is what Brene Brown refers to as a whole-hearted life.
I want the most whole-hearted life I can have.
I want connection.
I want joy in the simple moments.
I want to see families slow down and heal. Healing comes through feeling heard and valued. Art can be part of both.
The process of humans expressing something in artistic means is as relevant as the finished piece. Take pictures, pursue drawing, color something, make a sign, or glue some pop-sickle sticks together. All Sunday School teachers across the world know that students are engaged more when they get their hands on something. I give you moms permission to toss out their finished art every now and then! The research says the process of making it is valid as can be! Wink wink!