Art Education for Kids: Nature is in the eye of the beholder

What if we never came to know Georgia O’Keefe, with her vividly enchanting, bigger-than-life nature paintings? The world would have missed out on her giant, colorful flowers and the emotion captured in her desert landscapes. Hers is a cautionary tale for those who over-direct, restrict or push children to imitate the ideas and art forms of others. Georgia O’Keefe is one of the most famous American female painters, and she revolutionized modern art. She had to overcome the need to satisfy someone else’s idea of how her art should look in order to fully develop her potential. Early in her career, O’Keefe became discouraged and decided to destroy her work because she felt that each piece was created to satisfy someone else’s ideals. Ultimately, Georgia’s own design sensibilities won out, and her paintings won the hearts of viewers everywhere.

Are your children passionate about nature? Encourage creative expression by sending your children outdoors with a large tablet, pencils, markers and/or paints (Crayola® has a whole line of “Outdoor” products!) and suggest that they explore nature in search of something special to them. Prompt them by asking, “What do you see that looks interesting to you?” Send them on a nature treasure hunt. Use that flower, tree, insect, animal or plant as an object of inspiration to create their unique works of art. Ask them how this living part of nature makes them feel and to use this feeling when they create their artwork. Perhaps they are attracted to the changing colors of the sunset and wish to paint a watercolor capturing the scene. You should remind them that they do not need to make their art in any particular size, shape or color. Let them react to their setting in a way that works best for them, and remember that the process is as important as the finished product!