Too often the visual arts are considered a place for unstructured activity and exploration, freedom from discipline or constraint. There is a notion that any structure or expectation in the visual arts will stifle creativity. And yet we would not hold the same standard for any other form of the arts.
Few people with no music training have dared bang away at a piano, expecting applause. We don’t attend dance recitals ready to cheer for the children that randomly jump and flop around on stage with no training or dance routine. Instead, children who want to be dancers head to the dance studio for a series of classes to develop core dancing. It takes weekly repetition and continued advancement in training to yield results that garner the applause. Musicians attend lessons and practice their instruments in order to develop core skills and wow their audiences. And dancers and musicians dance and play just for themselves. They enjoy their art, they enjoy the experience, even with and because of the training involved. Training leads to competency. Competency leads to success. Success leads to pleasure in participating. That pleasure and success leads to continued participation.
Now why would we not provide children the same opportunities to gain competency in the visual arts? How can we entertain this notion that the visual arts are somehow exempt from the training or repetition needed to gain skill? Children stop doing things they don’t know how to do. They stop doing things in which they aren’t good. How can you become good unless you are taught?
The visual arts require very specific training and regular repetition. Weekly art classes with direct “how to” information are essential. Creativity is about developing the skills needed to express oneself. All skill development requires disciplined application. With skill comes the freedom to create.
“Art is not freedom from discipline, but disciplined freedom.”