Children Talking about their Art

We do a lot of art.

And we enjoy it!

I find that young children really enjoy the art process and they are not too concerned about the end product.

In other words, they love doing art and are not too worried about how the work looks when finished.

But around 9 or 10 years old, many children develop a critical eye of their work as they begin to mature and move into the realistic age.  As they mature they start to worry that their work “doesn’t look right”.  Basically, they can see how it should look and yet they don’t have the artistic techniques and ability to paint or draw accurately.

Children in this phase need encouragement so that they enjoy creating art and the end product.

This is also the time where we need to ask them questions about their art that help them enjoy their work.

I sometimes use these questions (often followed by the question why?)

  • What is your favourite part of your painting? Every art work has some point of interest or success.
  • Which figure/flower/building do you think is really good? Even though the outcome may not be perfect, the child can find the most pleasing aspect.
  • Which section of the background do you like? When they look behind the detailed pictures, they will find other details or interesting areas.
  • Which colours on your painting do you enjoy the most? Focus on colour rather than reality/ figures/ proportion.
  • What did you enjoy doing the most on this project? This refers to the process and not the end product.  If there were more than 2 stages in the work, they can easily chose the one they enjoyed.

Here are some other activities that help children talk about and appreciate their art ~

We load our paintings on to Picasa (or any other photo software on your computer) and save a copy of the painting to file.

  • With the copy we crop the best section.
  • We use the fade/ glow/ soft focus to highlight an area or diminish the rest of the painting.
  • We crop and enlarge a section of the painting.

We use ” unwanted” original work for further art activities

(Seeing scraps of art in a new product often creates a new enjoyment of the art work.)

  • We use a small paper frame (about postcard size), we select a section that best fits the picture. Even just framing art work gives a finish that helps highlight the colours.
  • Use a smaller viewfinder (a frame about the size of a matchbox), the child can select any interesting part of the picture to enlarge and redraw as an abstract work.
  • Make an abstract collage from the painting. See a wonderful example at Barb’s Harmony Art Mom Watercolour Painting Collage.
  • Laminate the art work for table placemats.
  • Use a selection of art works for calendars or gift tags.
  • Scrapbook with art works.  (I don’t make conventional scrapbook pages, but use art scraps for background paper for scrapbook pages.)
  • Use sections of art works for making cards.
  • Cut up art into strips and laminate them for bookmarks.

I loved these 8 Questions to Ask your Children about their Art I found in Rachel Lynette’s website

  1. What can you tell me about your picture? This open-ended question is a great way to get kids talking about their art. It is especially good if you cannot tell what the picture is. Nothing worse than saying, “What a lovely horse.” only to have the child tell you it is supposed to be a dog.
  2. How did you get the idea for this picture? By explaining the inspiration, the child recognizes his own creative spark and makes the connection from real-life events to artistic creation
  3. What do you like about your picture? Encourages the child to look carefully at his art and make a judgment. More importantly, this question teaches your child to value his own internal validation rather than performing in hopes of gaining the approval of others.
  4. What title would you give this work? Titles can offer a new dimension to a piece of art. Also, a title encourages your child to think about the main idea or concept of her work.
  5. Why did you…..use brown for the sky? Make the girl so much larger than the boy? Use only the bottom of the paper? Basically ask why the child decided to draw or color a specific element of the work in a particular way. Make sure your tone is neutral – you are asking for clarity, not judging or criticizing the work.
  6. How were you feeling when you made this picture? Connecting emotions with creative expression.
  7. How do hope other people will feel when they look at your picture? Allows the child to put himself in another’s place and imagine how his work affects that person. You could also make this question more specific by naming a particular person: How do you think grandma will feel when she looks at your picture?
  8. If you could make this picture again, what would you do differently? Professional artists often make many versions of the same picture, trying new things, tweaking, experimenting. Encourage your young artist to do the same.
What suggestions do you have for talking with your children about their art?

5 thoughts on “Children Talking about their Art

  1. I love the idea of saving original art in a photo application and cropping it! Seeing artwork with a different ‘eye’. All of these questions to ask the children are marvelous. We’ll be back with our next art lesson. Thank you.


  2. Thank you so much for this post.
    My son (now aged 11) is very critical of his work and believes that his younger sister obviously has better artistic talent, so he shouldn’t really have a go.

    This has been encouraging, as I see similar thoughts on how to encourage children in this age group. I especially love the idea of making a selection to use as a calendar … this we’ll have to do as a project for gift-giving to the extended family.

    Thank you for the encouragement. 🙂
    Catherine (aka alecat, TOS Crew)


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