Picasso famously asserted that ‘Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once we grow up’. It’s a great question to ponder; why do so many children change from being magnetically drawn to any available paper and crayons to declaring, somewhere in the double-digit years, that ‘I can’t draw’, and never feeling inclined to do so again?
Harry is still at an age and stage where he loves all things arty and crafty, and I’m keen to gently foster this as far as possible. Here are a few of the things we’ve discovered and loved together…
This book is a favourite, packed with brilliant ideas for drawing projects, like drawing by torchlight, making monoprints and staging an art party. I can’t tell you how much I love it. Our first project was a simple fruit bowl still-life, arranged by Harry, that we drew together at the kitchen table. The challenge was that we had to use oil pastels (neither of us had tried this before), and use a coloured paper background. Harry won Best in Show for his picture (I was robbed!). I liked it so much that we scanned it and made it into a set of cards;
The internet is a fantastic resource both for blogs and for tutorials. We loved watching Quentin Blake showing us how to draw Willy Wonka, and sat together with our pens and paper, following his pen-strokes and creating some astonishingly passable imitations. Try typing ‘how to draw a ….’ into your search engine, filling in the blank with whatever you are passionate about (unicorns, pterodactyls, tractors, volcanoes… you name it, someone somewhere will have a tutorial showing you how).
Museums and art galleries are also a favourite and a source of continual inspiration. But here’s the thing; we whistle through them at a rate of knots, going where Harry’s interest takes us and staying for as little or as long a time as we feel like. We take a sketchbook and pencils and settle down on quiet spots of floor or benches to draw the things that capture our attention. Favourites include the V&A in London, Yorkshire Sculpture Park and Tate Modern. On my list for a long time has been the House of Illustration (and how I wish we could have teleported to California to visit this!)
Workshops are also fun; during school holidays I often sign Harry up for classes for a couple of hours to try new things, like Lego animation (a HUGE hit), clay-making (hit and miss) and this most recent triumph; a short class at a local art shop teaching kids how to draw wolves using charcoal. An unusually specific topic, but for this seven year old it was just about the coolest thing to know how to do. And the result was awesome. We framed it and it now hangs, three-foot-wide and howling at the moon, in the snug.