The art of creative expression: Does adding new painting materials help a child's...

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Home / Health / The art of creative expression: Does adding new painting materials help a child’s creativity and emotional health?

Creativity as a form of self-expression is the most cathartic, and free of judgment. There is nothing more satisfying and fulfilling than to be able to express oneself openly. When it comes to a child’s developmental exercise, the ability to be creative, and to create something from personal feelings and experiences can reflect as well as nurture children’s emotional health.

The Japan Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (JAIST) recently did a study seeking answers to questions pertaining to improving a child’s creativity, their focus and motivation to learn and if the use of varied painting materials affect a child’s creativity differently. The results were published in the journal of Social Sciences. Introducing materials into children’s fine art education may bring significant benefits to their creativity, says the study. Through various genres, styles, and even periods of art, media used to create paintings varies greatly.

Delicate materials, such as crepe paper or fine brushes, tend to be the materials of choice when artists wish to produce a painting with fine details. Rough materials, on the other hand, tend to result in rougher, more abstract lines. A complex and subtle interplay of the combinations of these materials allows for more varied and nuanced expressions, as well.

Researchers Lan Yu and Yukari Nagai confirm that children tend to use relatively few materials when painting, most of which are best-suited to representing fine detail, such as watercolour pens and coloured pencils.

These finely detailed implements may be the ones chosen for the primary school classroom due to reasons of convenience, cost, and clean up. Nevertheless, these types of materials are most commonly used in realistic, detailed styles of art - and indeed, children who use these materials do tend to work in such styles of artwork.

According to an idea shared on TED.com about nurturing a child’s creativity, “Human brains digest the world to produce novelty — but too many classrooms offer little to be digested, instead proffering a diet of regurgitation. That diet threatens to leave our society hungry for future innovators. We’re stuck in an educational system born during the Industrial Revolution, in which the curriculum was regularised, children listened to chalkboard lectures, and school bells replicated the factory bells that signalled a change of shift.”

“That model doesn’t prepare our students well for an advancing world, one in which jobs are rapidly redefined and the prizes go to those who can generate novel opportunities. The real job of classrooms is to train our students to remake the raw materials of the world and generate new ideas. Fortunately, it’s not difficult to implement; it doesn’t require tearing up existing lesson plans.”

Children don’t mix media often, and the results of this study indicate that children feel that it is difficult to do so. When they do mix media, it tends to result in uneven line thicknesses and colour, leading to a final product worse than they had hoped.

However, despite the complacency that children and indeed teachers may feel with their comfortable and convenient painting materials, limiting the media used for creating artwork seems to result in disinterest, and robs children of the opportunity for growth. This study raises concerns that using the same tools that painting students have always used, or avoiding combining tools with which they are familiar, may not produce the best results.

Luckily, the young learners in this study displayed positive attitudes toward trying new materials, indicating that teaching techniques involving new materials would likely be accepted. In fact, introducing new materials into children’s fine art education may produce clear beneficial results.

The researchers make clear recommendations to educators involved in fine art education for children. According to the study, the introduction of new materials would expand children’s repertoires and could allow them not only to improve the visual effects of their paintings but even to expand their creative consciousness.

The process of mixing different painting materials expands children’s creativity, and can also improve their motivation, resulting in increased ability to maintain attention on learning, a skill crucial both inside and outside the primary school classroom.

-- with inputs from ANI

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