What is the right thing to say to your young artist?

Parents, have you ever looked at your child’s work of art or left a recital or performance and not known what to say?

Don’t worry! This is not uncommon.

The Colorado Academy arts faculty recently discussed how often parents come to us and feel at a loss when they are trying to support and encourage their budding artists without squashing their joy. We have some ideas that might help.

  • We must celebrate the artistic habits that are essential to the creative process. Those habits include patience, courage, adaptability, persistence, expression, self-direction, and joy, just to name a few.
  • It is important that we support our artists’ unique voices. This means giving encouraging words even when we don’t understand the work.
  • When an artist falls in love with the creative process, they begin to make beautiful products.
  • Remember what a tremendous amount of courage it takes to stand up on a stage or put your art up on the wall.

So, you ask, how do we support these important aspects of the creative process? There is not one way, and knowing your child, you will find a way that feels right. Here are some words of advice from teachers who have been artists and art educators for many years.

“I had so much fun watching you play today. I could see how much pride you have in your work.”

“This piece you have done is like nothing I have ever seen before. I am so proud of the risks you took to create it.”

“It looks like you worked really hard on this drawing, please tell me how you did it.”

“It was really neat to see you play such a supportive role to your peer.”

“The courage it took to get up on that stage is inspirational”

It is always a good idea to ask lots of questions and then, listen. If things don’t go well for the artist, let natural consequences teach the lesson and say very little. An artist knows when they have not practiced their craft before a big event. In those instances, love and encourage them for who they are, not what they do. The mistakes lead to their growth.

Here are some resources to check out: Terry Barrett’s Talking About Student Art and Lisa Congdon’s Find your Artistic Voice: The Essential Guide to Working Your Creative Magic.

The CA Art Faculty is always here to support you and your artists, so please contact us any time. As one of our music instructors says, “If nothing else, say ‘Bravo, bravissimo!’”