Recently, I had the opportunity to teach Art Discovery to my son’s class of 2nd graders. I am a little nervous each time I do these lessons ~ not due to any part on the children, I adore connecting with them ~ but I worry what other adults in the room will think of my heart-centered approach to teaching art…

Can you paint the nose on your portrait blue? Of course!
Can you put a yellow turtle in your landscape? If that’s what you want!
You didn’t make a mistake ~ let’s see what you can turn that line into…
There is NO wrong way, just have fun and create what is in your heart.
Does it matter if your drawing looks different than the example? Absolutely ~ it SHOULD look different!
If you can visualize it in YOUR head, then it is perfect.
Do YOU like it? Good! That’s all that matters.

The way I see it, I’ll let others teach them the correct way to create a table leg in perspective, and how to create a realistic highlight on an apple… my job is to teach them what I myself was never taught in grade school (or as a student studying graphic design in college), but what I think is even more important than art rules: how to create from that part of you that feels joy and wants to express itself. Yes, that perfect part.

I often have the children do their drawings with markers or pens instead of pencils for the purpose of taking the option of “mistakes” out of their minds. Every line can be used in some way to alter or add to the image. When we use pencils we are so tempted to erase and redraw (then erase and redraw) to create something that seems “perfect”. When we draw with pens and no option to erase, we create something that flows from the heart. We remove the ego.



Picasso was the subject this time, and we talked about his ability to paint with realism, and his choice to paint with freedom. We talked about how others thought his art wasn’t real art because it didn’t look ‘real’ and how Picasso wanted to capture the freedom in his art that children have when they create.


We talked about profiles and portraits and how cubism combined multiple sides of an object or face. We also talked about warm and cool colors and how we can combine them in one piece.

Then… they went to work!


I was very impressed with the work they did with oil pastels and markers. They all had fun, they all worked the entire 40 minutes and no one asked to do a second piece (because they were putting so much time in their first piece).


At the end, their teacher asked them what they had learned today, and these were the answers that rang out through the class:

That art can be fun!
Art doesn’t have to look real!
It doesn’t matter what others think!
You can draw faces that are fun and different!
You can use lots of different colors!

Swoon and swoon again ~ they got it. I’m so glad.



Here are some additional art lessons with students:

Native American Masks with preschoolers

17 children with paints in my garage!


Have a great day, and enjoy the photos!

Love & Sincerely, Katie