You're picking up your young artist after an afternoon at the art studio and they are itching to share their latest creation with you. You may not know anything about art, but you can easily be the best supporter of their work and sound like an expert while doing it.
What does my artist need to hear when they show me their work?
There's so much pressure on you in this moment. What is it? How am I supposed to tell if it is good or not?
The answer is, those things don't really matter. Your artist has been through a lot to bring this beautiful work of art into the world and you can celebrate that! So even if you're not quite sure what you are looking at, "it's beautiful!" and "I love it!"
Ask any professional artist and they will tell you they had to make a lot of art they didn't like to learn how to make art they do. Each work of art is an opportunity to learn, and even if we might not be framing everything that comes home with them, we need to take a moment to celebrate what they learned with that piece.
But I want to be able to nurture their growth, how can I contribute more to their learning?
When we start listening to artists we learn about the ideas and the process that went into creating their work. Your artist may have learned better brush control, or tried something new. They may have spilled or ripped a hole through the paper and learned how to fix it. What if they drew the best eye they've ever drawn and are waiting for you to notice? They may not have volunteered all the exciting details, so ask them about their art!
"What did you learn while you were making this?"
"What is your favorite part of this painting?"
"Did you like trying watercolors for the first time?"
"Where should we put it?"
When you ask these questions, you are getting into their mindset while they were making this piece. Did they enjoy this? Is this their favorite medium? Do they like the subject of their painting? Have they decided they are going to be an artist who always draws dogs wearing hats? Or do they prefer something different?
Asking these basic questions will set you up to learn their artistic preferences and as time goes on, you will be able to recognize what part of their work they want to celebrate with you.
Starting to feel good about this? Here are a few extra tips that will help you feel like a pro.
If they are enrolled in a class, learn the lingo, you can often find it right there in the class description. Here are some easy and more universal ones to get you started.
"Wow! I can really see a light source in your painting. You are so good at observing tones."
"It looks like I can step into your landscape, everything looks so far away near the horizon line."
"You were so creative with the brushwork on this painting."
"You have done a great job with acrylics, do you like this medium?"
"The perspective on that building must have been hard!"
You can do this!
Learning the ropes of parenting your artist may seem intimidating. We don't get a score board or statistics to tell us what is good and what is better. But now you know you can learn right along with your artist by asking the right questions and listening to them talk about their art.
Have an "aha!" moment to share? I would love to hear about your "art parent" wins in the comments!