Try a range of arts and crafts projects with kids and hopefully, one of the activities will reveal a natural talent. Unfortunately, if this talent is drawing, it is rarely encouraged beyond simple doodles or as part of other craft ideas. This is a huge shame as drawing is a skill which improves and flourishes with practise. It has real educational value as it is linked to mathematical and geometric principles. Drawing is one of the most accessible craft ideas for kids. All they need is a piece of paper and a pencil.
One of the first skills a young child develops is the ability to hold a pencil properly. Once they have mastered this, they advance their pencil control by practicing with simple drawing exercises that take them from drawing scribbles, to lines, curves and finally circles. When they have reached this stage, they are ready to attempt recognisable letters and numbers.
A good way to encourage this is by drawing a feint series of dots on the paper in the shape of the letter or number. They’ll enjoy joining the dots and its good formation practice. Eventually, they will be able to move away from the dots and try copying the shapes drawn by an adult.
Learning to draw is much easier if children start with some very basic principles. They could begin by looking at the world around them with fresh eyes. This is achieved by simple exercises which illustrate the world as a series of shapes and colours. Start with basic shapes and basic colours. These are the foundations on which the drawing will be built. Try these easy ideas:
- Explore the ways in which a cartoon is merely a formula of shapes. For example, a cat is a circle for its face, two ovals for eyes, an upside down triangle for a nose and an inverted ‘w’ for a mouth. Don’t forget the two little triangle ears. It’s only when we add features like shading or whiskers that it truly becomes a cat. Repeat these formula drawings over and over until the child is confident to have a go with their own cartoon animals.
- Look at everyday objects and how they can be drawn on paper using only basic shapes. A table lamp could be a rectangle topped off with a capsized boat shape. Practice with items around the house like furniture, fruit or even people! It may help to look at some examples of modern art.
- Look at how other artists achieve their drawings. Take a piece of tracing paper and encourage the child to spot and trace as many shapes as they can find in the examples.
An excellent approach to learning to draw is by copying. Copying is all about repeating and practicing until the young artist is competent enough to come up with their own ideas.
- Start copying by studying repeating patterns which can produce some very interesting artwork. Get the child to draw a random shape. The child copies around this shape over and over to make a repeating, concentric pattern.
- Find a child’s colouring-in book with simple line drawings. Choose a design and draw a large grid over the drawing. A 3 x 3 grid is ideal. Draw a grid of the same size and proportions onto some blank drawing paper. The child will find it much easier to copy the picture and will be able to appreciate how a picture is composed. As the child’s confidence and skill grows, choose more complex and challenging pictures to copy.
As the child practices their art, they will begin to explore more complex issues like shading and perspective. Eventually they may wish to look at using different materials such as charcoal or watercolour. Whichever path of progression they follow, ensure you encourage your child and continue to research a wealth of interesting drawing exercises to fascinate and challenge them.