Thursday, January 8, 2009

Every Child Is An Artist

Every Child Is An Artist
An entry by Diana Mercer

It seems to me a rare thing to have a friend you met in 7th grade, but Susanna and I have, indeed, been close since 1979. Even more unusual, have been our overlapping paths in life; 2000 miles apart. While Susanna has been teaching art in Connecticut at Paper Scissors Oranges, I have been living in Boulder, CO and teaching at Clementine Studio (a sister studio, with a different name). For many years, both Susanna and I have been up to our ears in children’s art: developing a deep respect for children, and the fascinating way art helps them grow. In 2006, I started a retail line of natural and organic art supplies for children in order to support healthy creative art explorations at home ( Recently, Susanna invited me to contribute an entry about my thoughts on children and creativity to her blog.

Susanna has inspired countless children at her glorious art studio Paper Scissors Oranges for nearly a decade. Her studio is a magical place. Art card worthy in its aesthetic, the studio engages children in a process that has all but vanished from the lives of modern, busy children; the process of real creativity.

Children are naturally creative. Picasso said “Every child is an artist, the problem is how to remain an artist once we grow up.” Too often, activities for
children ask far too little of them. “Follow these directions and you’ll get a glass jar filled with layers of colored sand.” Pretty? maybe. Creative? no.
Widely used crafts like these miss an important opportunity to support children in the creative process: nourishing right brain abilities to dream,
brainstorm, plan, problem-solve, synthesize, interpret, express and execute an original vision.

The word ‘creative’ has become a ubiquitous buzzword, plastered on children’s products from craft kits to math games, but the essence of the word; the power and ability to invent, is sadly missing from the outcome. In order for an activity to support the development of real creativity, it must allow children the space, materials, support and respect to engage in the creative process; a process that involves the invention of something new.

What makes an activity creative?
Children’s work is creative when it:
  • Is open-ended: Children are in charge of the outcome, regardless of what the outcome looks like.
  • Engages imagination and feelings: Children have an opportunity to discover what it is they want to say, and how they want to say it.
  • Emphasizes the process: The act of creating supports organizational, problem-solving, social, motor, science skills, literacy, and much more.

Children who are engaged and supported in creative thinking, glow, hum and shine. The act of creation is natural, joyful, nourishing, and developmental for children. Just visit Paper Scissors Oranges to see for yourself.

Diana Mercer, January, 2009


Susanna said...

Thank you Diana!

Mae said...

Beautifully said. I've always said Paper Scissors is the happiest place on earth. It's an honor to be a part of this amazing community. There is no gift greater than seeing my kids covered up in their creative process! BTW Diana, Clementine Studios play dough is the BEST. The colors are amazing as are the scents!