Ask Vanessa: Encouraging Creativity in Children — 6Mar 2013

One of my biggest joys in Artary derives from the bountiful smiles I encounter everyday from our wonderful kids. The interest and passion for art that the children bring to the studio is not only energizing, but very contagious!

Many parents are supportive in developing their children in the arts, but why so? Two responses frequently surface in my conversations with parents. Firstly, to develop their child’s drawing and painting skills, and secondly, while doing so, enjoy themselves! Regrettably, most parents equate the value of art by the aesthetics of the artwork.

In children’s art education, there is more to just aesthetics and mastery of art skills and proficiency. In Artary, we put as much, if not more, attention on developing the creativity and nurturing the capacity to imagine in children.

In this blog post, I’d like to share a three simple techniques on HOW to encourage creativity in young children. You may also find that these techniques can be applied in most aspects of learning!

Remember the 3 R’s (reuse, reduce, recycle) of the environment? Now, introducing, the 3 E’s to encourage creativity in children!


Children crave for variety, and exposing them to new and refreshing materials in every artwork is the best way to excite and entice a child’s curiosity. The home can be a fantastic trove of recyclable materials for artworks! Collect used cloths, old newspapers, packing cardboards, ice cream sticks and milk cartons, clean and stow them in your art chest. Take a walk in the park, find and collect interestingly shaped dried leaves, stones and pebbles of various colours and shapes, or even sand of different grain sizes! Keep a stash of materials in different colours, shapes, sizes and textures, you never know when you need it! Exposing children to a variety of materials allows them to be aware of their environment, and to develop a keen eye in observing the world around them. They will start to recall, relate and compare materials, and are more likely to use them at unexpected times!


Encourage your child to hold, touch, feel and play with art materials. Allow them to explore by stretching, scratching, pinching, twisting, moulding, bending or even peering into the surface of the material through a magnifying glass! One of my favourite trick is “magically” transforming a carrot doodle on an orange balloon into a papaya as I inflate the balloon with just a few breaths! Exploring the world with the hands creates many opportunities for children to self discover. Through observations of changes in shapes, sizes and states of materials as a result of their actions, children are trained to expect and anticipate differences. Children tend to interact with their environment with more confidence and creativity, and are more likely to think of alternatives and imagine from different perspectives.

Artary How to encourage creativity in children
Exchanging Pablo Picasso’s face for Pikachu’s. (Source: Pablo Pikachu’s Self Portrait)


Have you seen a car on triangle wheels? Ever come across an orang utan with an afro hairdo? Are pink oranges as tasty as orange ones? Tickle your child’s imagination by switching and swapping everything with almost anything! Encourage your child to challenge the norm by exchanging colours, positions, sizes or even personalities! Paint unreal colours onto animals, or arrange features of the human at random! Spice up the artwork by telling fun and deeply imaginative stories featuring your child’s unique creations. Exchanges are a fun and visual way for children to create new varieties and discover combinations in art independently, often with unexpectedly creative solutions to the “unnatural problems” they created!

That’s it! At your next art activity, encourage creativity in your child with the 3 E’s! (Expose, Explore & Exchange)

Try it, and share your results with us!


Ask Vanessa is a new blog series where Vanessa shares insights into children arts education, parents’ questions, best practices and tips. Follow Artary’s Facebook page or our blog for more updates.
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