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Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Nurturing a Creative Spirit

Okay, so although we look like a pretty traditional family, I know my family is pretty unique. I think a combination of moving a lot as a child (we moved almost every year around Christmas break until I was in 4th grade), and being an only child (GASP - and I'm not even that much of a brat) means we have a very unique family dynamic. I don't have a single memory of my parents fighting, and despite strict rules and lots of supervision, my friends always loved hanging out at my house. I know I didn't appreciate the closeness of my family until college when I studied abroad in Florence, Italy. I was really homesick, and it was made clear that they were the ONLY people I could make $3/minute phone calls to. (I was actually so homesick, to keep my in Italy, they had to plan a trip to come see me during my 1 week break halfway through the summer semesters.)

I was a VERY creative child, being an only child in my family meant I had to often play by myself. I talked to myself all the time (I still do a LOT, and I talk to my dogs more often than that.) I visited with my Nana for a few weeks every summer and we always made stuff. Hand crafts, cross stitching, woodworking, ceramic painting, and the highlight of every trip was a shopping spree (or so it seemed) at the thrift store. I had unique style. I always wanted to decorate things and collect "treasures." 
When I was in the 9th grade, my parents rewarded my creativity by allowing me to decorate my own room. We painted the walls orange with a sherbet ceiling. I covered the small wall behing my door with butcher paper, then collaged it with small magazine clippings. I was even allowed to collage and paint the blades of my ceiling fan. I painted every piece of furniture.  I displayed my vintage finds on shelves. 
So,  I guess it wasn't a shock when I decided to major in Art in college.  I was incredibly blessed to have parents who realized I would be more successful pursuing what I loved and enjoyed than selecting a career based on an estimated paycheck. 

I taught art for 2 1/2 years after college, 1st-9th grades, and nothing was more excruciating for me to hear than, "this is __, he/she/we are not artists at all, we can't even draw a stick figure!!" Check the box right there for the child never believing they could be an artist. Some children may be more creative than others, or more naturally talented, but I truly believe any person who wants to can become an artist. I mean, for goodness sakes, do you still write with the same penmanship you did in the first grade? No! Your motor skills continue to develop, and with practice, I believe anyone can learn to draw/paint/photograph...
I cannot imagine how stifling it must be to a child's spirit to hear their parents say they aren't talented - even if it is justified with a chuckle and
"neither am I." Don't let your insecurities become your child's.

I know the relationship I have with my parents now is a product of encouragement to be creative and explore many artistic ventures - along with many other components. I know, without a doubt, the fact that my parents have always loved me for who I am, encouraged me to be my own person, and allowed me to dream, has meant I always look forward to time spent with them. They always believed in me and taught me that if I wanted to become great at something, I had to practice - no talent develops without work.

Bless WD's heart because loving my family (and spending a LOT of time with them) was not optional.  I guess all of this to say, I am incredibly blessed to have a supportive family and I hope this encourages someone to embrace the creativity in their children and to nurture that creativity. I have heard once your imagination gone, you will never get it back.

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