Time and time again, I have gone into classrooms to hear that children have already self-determined that they are or are not artists. The ones that say they are continue to explore and enjoy the process, and have a drive to continue and seek out the information they need. Sadly, it is the majority that decides they do NOT have what it takes to be an artist. This is tragic.
Young children use drawing to communicate and share their thoughts and ideas. They are content and share their simple self-discovered images. As they get older, they become increasingly aware of the sophisticated images around them. By their own evaluation and comparison, they grow discouraged. When there is no training on how to take their images and abilities to the next level, they decide they are not good enough. They decide they cannot do art.
The sin is ours. What are not working are the educational philosophies regarding art education. The current accepted methods of teaching or not teaching art is stifling our children.
Would we ever hand a young child a calculator and ask them to self-discover math? Do you give them books and have them teach themselves to read? Would we set them in front of a piano and say do music? Once they bang away at the keyboard, we would all want them to have some instruction and gain in abilities. It is universally agreed that proper music instruction includes mastery of very specific skills and mastery of the particular instrument. Why would we assume anything less would be needed to gain mastery in the visual arts?
When children stop doing art because of they do not know how to draw, we need to teach them how to draw. As obvious as that statement seems, it is not what is happening in the majority of art education. Children stop doing art because of a lack of instruction and specific information. To gain mastery and confidence in any area, we all require information, instruction and opportunity.