Friday, July 9, 2010

Does Art Influence Young Kids?

I have heard the following story since I was a young mother myself:

Hanna, a mother of grown sons, often lamented to her friends that each of her boys, in turn, went to sea as soon as they were old enough. 

One day, a group of her friends gathered in her living room to work on a quilt.  As the women chatted about their grown sons, who were merchants, farmers, teachers or builders, and their growing flock of grandchildren, Hannah became quieter and quieter.  She had no daughters-in-law to visit or shop with, and no grandchildren underfoot.

One of the women noticed that Hannah seemed excluded from the conversation, and, knowing of Hannah's sorrow and worry over her seafaring boys, tried to change the subject.  "Hannah," she said brightly, "I love that wonderful painting over your mantel.  Have you had it very long?"

Hannah's long-time best friend spoke up before Hannah could reply.  "Oh heavens," she said.  "That has always been there.  It was a wedding gift."

Suddenly Hannah and her friend exchanged a startled glance.  The painting was a dramatic seascape featuring a beautiful ship in full sail on high seas.  The women made the connection between the painting and the absent boys at the same instant, as best friends often do.  

I don't know if the story is true, but I do believe that a quiet half hour spent coloring with a little girl might be a valuable opportunity to chat about the pictures and perhaps share values that just might stick.  The blank backs of the pictures could serve as a spot for the child to write something about the picture, or to draw a picture of her own.  

1 comment:

  1. Hmmm... I don't think I've heard that story. Interesting to think about. Obviously, artwork in a home wouldn't "determine" the future careers of the children who live there--but I DO see how it could influence them.
    My mother wasn't a gardener-- she was never successful with plants. But we had SEVERAL paintings in our home of flowers in vases, beautiful garden landscapes, etc. And when the Thomas Kinkade paintings of the little cottages surrounded by beautiful gardens became all the rage, my mother HAD to have one.
    Even though I had a mother who didn't garden, and therefore didn't grow up with a love for gardening myself, as soon as my husband and I had our first home I began gardening. In fact, I'd say that it's probably one of my absolute favorite things to do.
    Is that BECAUSE I grew up in a home with artwork depicting beautiful vased flowers and outdoor gardens? I can't say for sure, but I DID love those paintings. I remember studying them up close, trying to figure out HOW the artist made those little strokes of a brush that looked NOTHING like a flower up close, look like one from far away. And I know the paintings made an impression on me, because I can still see them in my head.
    As a mother of "tween-age" girls, I certainly remember spending time coloring with them when they were younger. I homeschooled them at the time, so discussing methods and genres of drawing/painting etc was a given. But when they were just coloring or drawing on their own it also seemed to "open them up" to discussion, between us and between each other as sisters. And now that I think about it, I guess I should have expected that.
    My mother was a psych nurse and it was a pretty standard practice for them to give children paper and crayons so they could draw while they talked. It served two purposes; as a device to help the child relax and sort of "half focus" on something else while discussing sometimes uncomfortable things, but also as a way to express themselves. Sometimes they would draw things that were indicative of their feelings or events that they'd experienced.
    I guess I didn't really think about that while my girls and I were sitting around a table coloring for fun-- but we DID chit-chat and talk the whole time we were coloring. I guess the free flow of creative juices coming out your hand onto a page also helps to open up a free flow of conversation as well.