Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Guest Post

Lindsey Wright, from the blog at contacted me about composing a guest post for One Crayola Short. I've never had a guest post before, and when she said she'd like to write about digital art I was sold. Who doesn't want to incorporate more technology into their lessons? So without further ado, here is Lindsey's article.
Thanks, Lindsey!

45-Minute Digital Art Lessons are Inexpensive and Beneficial for Young Students

With the rise of computers and mobile devices in all aspects of our daily lives, many artists are putting down the paintbrushes and oil paints and turning to digital platforms to express their creative ideas. Since professional artists are moving to digital media, it's no surprise that the youngest artists among us are following suit. As digital art software becomes less expensive, easier to use, and more widely available, children can also join the ranks of digital artists. There are many free or low-cost options online for teachers to choose from for traditional or online courses, and all students can benefit from learning digital art techniques.

Digital art software programs vary greatly. Some programs, such as iDoodle2 lite and DoodleIt are available for the iPhone and other mobile devices. These programs generally have fewer features than those meant for a full-size computer. They also might be more difficult for smaller fingers to use. Other programs, such as the free Inkscape and Gimp work best on a full-size computer. Both programs are similar to the expensive professional software used by graphic designers, and both offer considerable functionality and control. For very young or beginning students, Microsoft Paint or any similar program already on your computer may be sufficient to gauge the child's interest level before downloading a more extensive program.

The most important technique for encouraging artistic expression in a young student is to make each lesson fun and fairly brief. Young children shouldn't begin with hours-long lessons. Longer classes could wear the students out and tax their shorter attention spans. 45-minute lessons are perfectly timed for young students. By maintaining a short but interesting lesson, instructors can help younger students retain their original enthusiasm and creativity. Art remains something enjoyable rather than becoming a chore or just another subject to be studied.

Many parents report that the creative outlet helps their children learn to express themselves in safe, nurturing ways. According to one study, art plays a key role in cognitive and social development in children. Often, by working on an art project young students are able to work through the basic personal and social problems that occur in their lives. The art provides an outlet for new or difficult emotions. In addition to mental, social, and emotional benefits that children and young students gain from expressing their creativity, there are also physical advantages. Especially in young children, digital art lessons hone hand-eye coordination and teach muscle control.

With the decline of arts programs in schools, many parents feel that they need to take matters into their own hands. Less than 10% of arts funding comes from the government, and in addition, the New York Times reported that corporate art funding declined to less than half of its 1994 rate by 2004. With these dismal prospects, it's no wonder parents are working to encourage a love of art in their children at home, and digital art is the perfect solution. It requires no specialized, expensive, or bulky supplies, and rather than purchasing and providing messy paints, brushes, markers, paper, and other supplies, parents can encourage the artistic talents in their children with less expenditure of time and energy as well as money. Digital art requires little setup for a bout of intensive creativity. Simply turn the computer on, open the software program, and the young student is ready to create.

Young students should begin with simple projects that teach them the functions of their chosen software while still encouraging creativity. Add different skills slowly and methodically in order to keep students interested. Each new lesson should teach only one or two new functions. Some options for younger students include using a shape-drawing function to create different sizes of each shape (squares, circles, etc.) or using paintbrush or pen functions to draw simple figures such as flowers and trees. Older students can combine these functions to create a simple landscape. Animals and human figures should be reserved for later lessons, as they often prove very difficult for young students to create digitally without practice and familiarity with the particular software. For older students, free lesson plans are available at The Virtual Instructor.

Young students may enjoy enhancing existing images or photos as well as creating their own images and paintings from scratch. Capture your students' interests by providing them with a well-known photo and allowing them to color, stretch, crop, and otherwise enhance the image. Family photos, maps, and even scans of newsprint can all create excellent bases for a young student's creativity. You can encourage students' hand-eye coordination and use of color by providing a black-and-white photo and allowing them to color in the sections. Being provided with a familiar starting point can be less daunting to young students than facing a blank canvas and beginning the entire project on their own.

Whether a young child is a budding Picasso or simply enjoys the creative process for its own sake, he or she can benefit from art instruction. In addition to being a enjoyable and inexpensive hobby for young students, digital art helps them to develop life skills that they will use forever. The creative, social, and cognitive benefits to a developing mind cannot be easily overestimated.

1 comment:

Mizz D. said...

This sounds awesome! I love using recyclables especially becasue I have very little supplies. I would love to see some pictures though.