Brandon Long, Creative Director
Art is a way of life. I know it, and if you are reading this newsletter, you know it too. The point at which you chose to be an artist, to pursue that lifestyle, is a pivotal moment in one’s life. Sure, most children start out with an interest in drawing – and why not? Drawing has a particular sense of magic to it. The ability to scrawl a few lines on a page and to have those lines mean something — to tell a story, has a power that the written word cannot express.
Learning to draw is an important part of early communication. It seems that the number of kids that express themselves artistically start to dwindle once they start school. A few kids stick with it, and grow in their skills, drawing unicorns, rainbows, and dragons on their folders while the rest of the class represses their artistic ability with the most unmagical words – “I can’t.”
What happens that creates that boundary that divides people into artists and those who decide that they simply cannot create? In my opinion, it has everything to do with encouragement. Kids that have a nurturing environment toward the arts are far more likely to continue in their exploration of themselves and the world around them. I think that people often make the mistake of believing that the ability to make art is a genetic trait – that creative abilities come from your parents or other family members.
In my opinion, a child doesn’t inherit the ability to create art, but rather, a child that has learned to value the arts and is encouraged to create is more likely to continue to create and increase their skills. Let’s put it into a lab concept. If a mouse pushes a button (or makes art, in this case) and gets a reward, he is more likely to push the button again. If he pushes the button and gets no reward, he will quickly lose interest in pushing the button (or making art, in this instance).
As an artist, you can probably remember a time when you were encouraged, when your art was validated as a worthwhile cause. For me, it was winning a prize in a Wal-Mart coloring contest as a child. If we want people to respect the arts, to love the arts, and to pursue the arts, we need to encourage those around us in their artistic endeavors. Let others know that their art is worthwhile. Do your best to withhold criticism and keep your critiques positive. There is a whole world or critics out there ready to discourage, so make sure the artists around you have firm roots in a nurturing environment.