Art as a Fundamental of Learning

Creating art is a fundamental part of how we connect to each other and how we learn. Art offers us the opportunity to communicate in sophisticated ways long before we have the control and fine motor function to write. Small children will squish finger paint or clay between their hands while they create colourful designs. On impulse, they might string buttons and beads and flowers together to create a necklace for a loved one. Give the most active or the shyest child a handful of crayons, chalk, or scissors and paper, and they will surprise you with their creativity.

The skills used to create art relate directly to the development of literacy skills we use as adults. We learn to communicate visually with others. We learn how to share what we experience while at the same time developing spatial awareness, problem solving skills and originality. These skills then aid us in reading, writing, technology use, numeracy, and communicating and working with others. Art involves seeing, interpreting, and discovering suitable mediums that will communicate our surroundings and what is important to us, and it helps us develop life skills at the same time. Creating art connects us through fundamental questions like “Does this look like me?” or “Does this look like what I saw?” or “Is this how I feel?”

Most people recognize the Mona Lisa, a famous painting by Leonardo Di Vinci and can tell you how the image makes them feel or what they think when they see it. If you do an internet image search for the Mona Lisa, you will find hundreds of interpretations of the image that Da Vinci created over 500 years ago. The Mona Lisa can be used as a tool to explain how an adult is feeling or what they are thinking. When you and I look at the same painting, we have an opening to compare and understand each other’s reactions, feelings and experiences.

What was your favourite art as a child? What is your child’s favourite? Is there an image in art or popular culture that you have strong feelings about? Please feel free to share!