Real Artists do not need to copy things

Do you agree with this statement; ‘ A real artist draws from his/her imagination and don’t need to copy things.’

I used to agree with this whole-heartedly, after hearing all too familiar exclamations from proud parents from the baby boomer generation about their children who have shown some good results in in art; “My son, XX, draw/created this all by his imagination. See how unique it is, I haven’t seen anything that look like that before!”

But after reading this book a while back, it has changed a lot of pre-conceived notions that I used to have about children learning art. And has truly empowered me to believe that even as a non-artist, it is possible to nurture my child’s creativity and interest for art.

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‘Drawing with Children – A Creative Method for Adult Beginners too’ by Mona Brookes

This book is written from the perspective of an international acclaimed art educator who runs her own art school in the States. Who have successfully brought out the artists in many young children to middle age adults.

Many of the people whom her art programme have nurtured, show little or no prior talent in art. ‘A real artist draws from his/her imagination and don’t need to copy things.’ was one of the key points that were mentioned in the book that strongly de-mystified the process of learning art.

Most renowned artists who work with realism, or subjects in nature or animals, usually observe these things in its natural environment. Also use photographs, look at other visual references and make rough sketches from picture of those things, so as to study the structure and shape of what they will draw. Some will re-arrange, add ideas from their imagination, or remove some details from the original picture to create their original piece of artwork.

What is even more interesting, is that famous artists like Picasso and Michelangelo both copied artists work for two years as part of their initial art training. Degas also worked with photographs of his subjects, and plenty of painters have used other paintings for inspiration.

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Two dancers by Edgar Degas


So does this fact about famous artist dis-mystify the process of how children/adult can learn art?

Imagination does play a huge part in the process of art, however it is not mutually exclusive from how people can learn or observe from visual references.

Her book also brought out valid arguments towards:

– why one does not need to exhibit a talent to be given formal lessons in art,

– the ability to draw can be learnt,

– structure drawings lessons are appropriate for young children. Children do not just develop their ability through free exploration and expression only.

I highly recommend this book if you are keen to start your own journey towards becoming an artist, or plan to embark on a DIY home-learning journey to teach your child art.

As I continue on my Art Home-Learning journey with K, I will be making numerous references to the techniques mentioned in this book.

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