Are you interested in having your child begin an art class, but just not sure which class would be the best one to start them in?
We get this question from parents often, and to be perfectly honest: there’s not really a set “right” answer.
But we’re happy to talk through the options with you and to provide a little more understanding of why you might choose one class over the other. So here we go:
Our First (& Best) Piece of Advice: Follow the Interest
Should we really give out our best secret first? We’ve already hinted so fine, we'll spill: the best place to start is in whichever medium your child has expressed interest (if they have at all).
And I know, you’re like “my children would literally eat only cheerios all day every day if I let them, how are they qualified to make decisions on their education?” Fair point. However, studies show (as does probably our own assessment of how we spend our days) that we all are naturally more motivated to put effort into activities we like.
This New York Times Opinion piece by Adam Grant encourages parents who want to raise creative children to let their children’s natural interests determine the activities we sign them up for, instead of forcing our own interests or ideas of what we want them to do on them. (Not that we necessarily 100% support all the opinions expressed in this piece, but he brings up a good argument to consider.)
So, instead of bribing your child into a drawing class when they’ve been begging to do clay, you could have them start in the clay class and see how they do (and we can always transfer them to a different class later.)
Or maybe you both could work out a compromise of 6 months of clay and 6 months of drawing.
OR another good compromise might be in one of our General Art classes.
Can’t decide on just one? Try General Art.
If you’re ever unsure of where to start your child or what they might be most interested in, our general art classes are great starter classes because your child will gain exposure to the widest range of media that we offer.
General art works great as a compromise between classes, as a class to test interest, or a class for those who love to try new thing often.
Out of all of our classes, our general art classes have the strongest art history element and provide a well-rounded curriculum in a range of media: drawing, painting, sculpture, fibers, clay, mixed media and others. Because our curriculum is monthly project based, each month your child will be working with something new.
If after a while in this class, they decide they’d like to focus on one particular discipline, we can always transfer them there, but we often have students who chose to stay in general art classes because they prefer the variety.
Okay, but what about Drawing vs. Painting?
First, we still hold to what we said earlier: whichever one your child is more interested in is a great place to start.
Secondly, there is no specific order necessary; drawing and painting do go hand in hand and you’ll get a bit of both in each class.
Painting is more color based, drawing is more linear and value based. Both classes will have projects where your child will learn and utilize elements of the other discipline.
That being said, drawing is the basis for most everything in art and design. The first thing a person usually does to visually process the world around them is to draw it out. Training your hand to draw what you see will be beneficial no matter what medium your child ends up working with. But you don’t always have to start there.
If your child is interested in painting and wants to be great at it, somewhere along the way, taking a drawing class will greatly improve their paintings, but it certainly isn’t as a pre-requisite.
3D vs. 2D?
Working with 3D vs. 2D materials are only a matter of personal preference. Some children prefer or even focus better when working with more tactile materials, while some prefer to stick to what comes out when they put their paintbrush or pencil to paper.
In our clay classes, we often have students draw out their design (again, see above what we wrote about drawing being a great way to visually process the world around us), but they don’t need to be master sketchers to do this.
Polymer clay or Ceramic clay?
Polymer clay is a type of colorful modeling clay that can be baked in the oven, and it’s a little easier for smaller hands to mold. As we do offer classes for 7-9 year-olds in both Polymer and Ceramic clay we believe both can learn to use either type; however, sometimes we recommend that younger students and students who are still working on fine motor skills to start with Polymer clay before moving to ceramic clay that takes a bit more hand muscle and control to sculpt.
Or, if your child is just more drawn to the colorful clay, that’s a great reason to start there too.
For those of you who were stressing that you’d start your child in the wrong class and forever ruin their arts education, we hope we’ve relieved your fear a little because that probably won’t happen.
For those hoping we’d give you a more of a set road plan, we’d love to talk with you and your child about their interest and goals for these classes. We can certainly come up with a recommended long-term plan together that can be edited at any phase to account for changing interests and goals along the way. If you’d be interested, email us at MuseoArtAcademy@live.com
Sharing our love of art education, one post at a time.