How to help your child become an Artist - Part 1

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My parents recognized I was an artist when I was in first grade after I drew a picture from the book titled The Poky Little Puppy.

Here's the picture I drew when I was 6 years old.

Here's the picture I drew when I was 6 years old.

 

Neither of my parents were artists.  So how did I become a great artist?

First of all, your child needs to have some desire to become an artist.  My son Hyrum reminded me of this because he is an artist, not because I am an artist.  He enjoys art and he does it on his own. 

Desire is key!

This is sad, but true. 

Even though a child has talent, that doesn't mean they will pursue their talent. 

As a parent you can not give your child desire, but you can create an environment that makes it easier for their talent to grow.

Here are 5 of my top 10 tips of advice for parents of budding artists.

#1 - Train your child to work.  Artists work and they have grit!

This is my first 3 children when they were 3-7 years old.  Teach your children to work when they are young so they can pursue their dreams when they grow up!

This is my first 3 children when they were 3-7 years old.  Teach your children to work when they are young so they can pursue their dreams when they grow up!


If you're child can work, they can become an artist. 

If your child can take an overwhelming job like a dirty kitchen, bathroom, or playroom from chaos to order, they can become a great artist because art takes discipline and mastery.

How does one train a child to work?

When they are 3-5 years old they think doing jobs with their parent or older sibling is a game. 

Work with the child doing simple things like folding small rags, sorting laundry, unloading the dishwasher, etc.  Most parents baby their children and do way too much for them because it's time-consuming to teach children to work.

Training children to work will pay rich dividends.  It's raising your child "Hard, Easy" instead of "Easy, hard." 

I paid a neighborhood girl $10.00 a week to clean my bathrooms, mop the floors, and fold and put away the laundry with me on Tuesday afternoons so I could have the "emotional strength" to work with little children training them to do simple jobs like peeling carrots, cooking, cleaning, etc.  Sometimes working with them is fun and it is best done one on one, but sometimes one feels like you are beating your head against a brick wall to get them trained. 

I spent 61% of my energy each day training my children.  Now they are amazing teenagers who can work!  It's worth it!

As they get older don't be afraid to give them harder jobs - I always ask myself - is this job at least as hard as milking a cow night and morning.  If it isn't - keep adding jobs so you can raise a child with grit.

Artists have grit.

#2 - As the parent pursue your own goals and dreams.

So many parents worry and encouraging their child to pursue their talents.

"Do you as a parent pursue your own talents?"

Becoming a parent, is a very time consuming task but it's important to pursue some hobbies and "sharpen the saw" as Steven Covey would say to keep yourself excited about life and to fill your bucket.

Actions speak louder than words!

My dad inspired me by pursuing his talent of running a 5K during one of the lowest points in his life!  He had huge financial reversals, he was very sick and not sleeping for months.  He ran a Santa 5K Run after preparing for 90 days.  He said he couldn't have done it without my little brother and sister running beside him.  He said that they were like angels running beside him giving him wind beneath his wings!  My mom and my 8 other siblings were also cheering him on!  He's an inspiration!
 

My dad Jeffrey Cooper, Steven Cooper and Sister MaraLyn Cooper helped my dad pursue his talent of running a 5K Santa Fun Run during own of the lowest points of his life!

My dad Jeffrey Cooper, Steven Cooper and Sister MaraLyn Cooper helped my dad pursue his talent of running a 5K Santa Fun Run during own of the lowest points of his life!

If you as a parent can pursue a talent or hobby and still be a great parent, that will inspire your child to go for their dreams as well!

My mom's Gracie Mae Interactive Paper Doll Quilt was a life-long goal that she accomplished.

My mom's Gracie Mae Interactive Paper Doll Quilt was a life-long goal that she accomplished.

During the same time that my dad was preparing to run the 5K, my mom decided to accomplish her dream of creating a paper doll quilt.  She had always loved paper dolls, quilting and decorating her home around the monthly holiday. 

So she created a paper doll quilt on cloth where she can dress the doll each month!  I drew and colored it for her and she sewed it together!  Each month she changes Gracie Mae's clothes and she is so happy that she accomplished her goal!

Even if your talent is something simple like reading - read books and share your passion with your children so they know you enjoy it!

#3 - Give your children, grandchildren and neighbor children art supplies for their birthdays, Christmas and rewards.

I love my small watercolor sketchbook, waterbrush, and watercolor markers because you can create anywhere! Check out my article on my  top 10 favorite art supplies .

I love my small watercolor sketchbook, waterbrush, and watercolor markers because you can create anywhere! Check out my article on my top 10 favorite art supplies.

I didn't realize that I wanted art supplies because I always got dolls and they were beautiful and fun for awhile.

But my jaw would drop and I would practically be drooling when I saw some child get an art set for Christmas.  I didn't realize how bad I wanted it, so give your children art supplies and lots of white paper so they can create!

Another tip:  If you give a child an art set - get it out of the case it comes in and put it in a handy travel bag so it doesn't look like a shiny museum piece but actually a usable art tool instead!

#4 - Encourage your child to fill sketchbooks and help them limit their time on electronics. 

Here's all my drawing sketchbooks I have filled by age 40!  I have filled at least 20 since I've lost a few over the years!

Here's all my drawing sketchbooks I have filled by age 40!  I have filled at least 20 since I've lost a few over the years!

Teach them to always carry a sketchbook so they can draw on the bus, at the doctor's office, at school, while waiting for their piano lessons or for you to pick them up instead of playing on a phone.

Warn your children about the dangers of pornography so they don't waste their life in time-wasters and sleaze.  A great site is to help you teach your child to avoid pornography is https://protectyoungminds.org/

Back when I was a kid I watched so much tv and played so many video games that it really bugged me, but it didn't change me. 

I wish my parents would have encouraged me to draw or do something else with my time.  Figure drawing is super important, but the figure can be learned with swimsuits on and from good resources.  Learn from art books, Youtube, coloring books, comics, etc.

When I was in college studying art one of the students was a very advanced draftsmen.  I asked him how he was so good at figure drawing and faces, etc.  He went to his desk and brought back 10 sketchbooks and slammed them down on the desk.

It made a great impression on me.

He had filled 10 sketchbooks and that's why he was such a good artist! 

Wow!  I started sketching more after that!

Always carry a sketch bag or sketchbook because life is made up of lots of carpe diems - lots of little moments to seize the day! 

#5 - Take your children places.

Take your children on trips to see nature like Yellowstone, National Parks, the ocean, lakes, mountains, and sand dunes. 

Take them to art museums and any kind of museum so they have visually rich inventory to pull from later in life. 

Especially take them to the library to get books they like, fairy tales, picture books, artist biographies for children. 

Guess what?  Books have lots of art inside!

There was a study done of the 20 geniuses and the only common denominator between them all was that they were raised in a stable home environment and the future genius read lots of fantasy!  Fantasy stories build one's imagination!

There was a study done of the 20 geniuses and the only common denominator between them all was that they were raised in a stable home environment and the future genius read lots of fantasy!  Fantasy stories build one's imagination!

The next 5 tips will be coming next week!  So stay tuned!  Good luck inspring your children!  You can do it!

Your friend,
Krystal Meldrum
The Color Dancer

 

What Was it Really Like to go to Art School?

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First of all, I didn't go to Art School.  I received a Bachelors of Fine Art from Brigham Young University which was an incredible education, but it wasn't a prestigious art & design school. 

But more about that later. 

Going to college is in my opinion the fastest, cheapest way to climb the Artistic Mountain of Knowledge to become a professional artist because one may gain an education in only 4 years and get to sample many different artistic directions.

I attended BYU-Idaho, a junior college for 2 years where I received an Associate's Degree in Illustration & Graphic Design, then I married my high school sweetheart and finished my degree receiving a Bachelor's of Fine Art in Illustration after 3 more years from BYU which was a 4-year university.

How much does Art School vs. College cost?

Art school would've have been a great opportunity, but I didn't even know art school existed until after my first year of college.  My college education for 4 years cost me around $20K from 1996-2001.  (I think one could get an education from a normal university for $30K now). 

In 1998 Art Schools cost $64K for 4 years.  In April of 2016, I visited an amazing art design school in California and saw many graduates with their final show.  I asked one graduate how much she spent and she said she was $275K in debt! 

That's more expensive than my house!

I planned on having children and being a stay-at-home mom and I wanted to support my husband as the primary breadwinner so my $20K BYU Art education was fabulous!

I knew that since I didn't go to art school I would always need to supplement my education to be able to compete in the art world.

And it is so easy today to continue gaining knowledge without an expensive education because there are so many online art schools and Youtube is so helpful!  I love SVSlearn.com, ChristOatley.com, Watts Atelier and there are so many amazing podcasts too!

Also, I have so many professional artists that mentor others in my area of Utah - it's a real Art Mecca with Beau-Arts Academy, Howard Lyon Fine Art & Illustration, Casey Child's Fine Art & Illustration, The Master's Academy of Art School, Creative Collaborative, Critique Groups at libraries, Dr. Micah Christensen, also known as Bearded Roman who gives free lectures on art and gallery stroll evenings to mix and mingle and get inspired with artists.  

Anyway, I am getting ahead of myself! 

I want to tell about my experience at BYU-Idaho, which was a 2 year college where I got my Associate's Degree in Illustration.  I wanted a small college to start at so I could get attention from the teachers and I chose BYU-Idaho over another 2 year college because BYU-I had 8 art professors opposed to 3 at the other junior college so I felt like I could learn more. 

Many of my friends felt that I received a better education than they did at a 4 year institution because all their foundation classes were taught from graduate students and adjunct faculty, however my classes were taught from professors that had attended Professional Art Schools or had Master's Degrees. 

To find a good art school, one needs to find a challenging school that will teach them the fundamentals;  good figure drawing, light & shadow, perspective, design, photography, marketing skills, and computer program skills such as Photoshop, etc.

I learned recently that dolphins that were captured from the wild had been taught to communicate by pointing their noses at words or images.  The dolphins were asked what they missed about the ocean. 

The dolphins responded, "Sharks."

You may wonder, sharks? 

Yes, sharks.

The dolphins missed the struggle, the fight, the challenge that occurred from inhabiting the same waters as the sharks.

Art school or college level art classes are the opportunity to learn in the ocean at shark speed!

Often times, as artists we get discouraged or distracted because we are emotional beings.

We get discouraged because our eyes improve faster than our hands, and so we stop painting.  But not when one is in college.  As long as one keeps doing the homework one keeps learning from a fire hose of 5-7 classes a semester!

Artists also tend to get distracted because there is so many exciting possibilities.  Artists experience option overload and stall out and do nothing or do something but because it wasn't perfect enough they tend to give up.

Giving up is the wirst thing to do.

College keeps one on the train track, chugging along up the mountain until one has enough tools to hop off the train and keep trekking.

In art school one doesn't just paint when "one feels like it."  One assignment comes after another, which are opportunities to get critiques. 

One doesn't just learn from one's personal critique because the teacher puts up all 30 assignments and critiques all the paintings in the class.  If one is teachable each assignment can teach one 30 ways to improve!

It's learning through a fire hose all right!

I have only had 2 negative critiques where the teacher turned it into a rant session about how lazy we were, but I knew I was a hard worker so I tossed off the words.

Critiques were my education! 

Don't be afraid of critiques.  They are one's stepping stones if one wants to climb the  mountain of art knowledge.

Artists are opinionated people that think they know what they want to do. 

School is great to help artists get out of their "boxes" and see and try so many new things - like dip art, fluid painting, mixed media, sculpture, digital programs like Illustrator, Corel Painter, Adobe Photoshop, Typography design, Graphic Design, Animation, product design, etc. 

For example, when I went to college I thought that Abstract paintings like Picasso's Guernica and Jackson Pollock's drip paintings were "not" art.  But after my education I am thankful for these artists because art is not only realism, we have been liberated.  Art is Impressionism, Abstract Expressionism, Cubism, Surrealism, and I get to try them all to find my niche!

College had been awesome - it had given me a little taste of many things but definitely not everything - I remember feeling disappointed as I ran to get in line for the graduation procession.

There was still so much I did not know!

College doesn't teach you everything - when I graduated I still needed to learn to paint landscapes, drapery, web design, and story writing, but it had given me many of the tools that I especially needed.

I had hoped to graduate as a successful artist, but I graduated with my art toolbox securely in my backpack and the mountain still lie before me. 

So after I took a 15 year sabbatical to raise my 6 children, I started my intense education again.

I am having a blast painting 20 hours a week for the last 2 years experimenting with many different medias and styles.

I am showing my art in art shows and competitions and I am receiving helpful customer feedback.

My current next step is to find a mentor to work with me for 3-9 months to put the finishing critiques on my art and then get a gallery and a publisher!

Good luck in your artistic journey!

Your friend,
Krystal Meldrum
The Color Dancer