Inside The Lines

“Better than a thousand days of diligent study is one day with a great teacher.”
Japanese Proverb


Inside The Lines

As far back as 1945 education specialists have cast doubt on children’s coloring books. They say that it stifles creativity and, somehow, it is an affront that a kid would be coloring in someone else’s work.

I disagree. I appreciate the considered thinking. From an artist’s perspective, there is a massive volume of creativity within the confines. I doubt that the specialists would allow coloring off the page and onto the floor or wall.

Even our most “out there” artists like Picasso and Pollock painted within the frame of their canvas. I’d be more interested to see what a kid did with an outline of a duck and how the solution of filling in the zones comes about on the page.

The ideal is that the teacher or parent sets the example and expectation in advance. Specialists hint at wanting nothing but an observer role and that is folly. I’ve known many drawing artists and many of them tell stories of sitting on the porch with their dad or mom who were drawing also or together.

Setting the expectation is important. If one suggests “inside the lines” then the child has a choice to try to achieve it or reject it. If rejected then we hope that there are attempts at solutions but still at the same excellence bar set in the expectation.

There is a whimsy in going outside the lines as if one were more free thinking; the same as thinking outside the box or pushing an envelope. I say that those things are welcome when and if you have exhausted all of the things that can be done inside the lines. There is a lot that can be done inside the lines.

Even if the kids draws a dark zone under the duck to suggest shadow, the kid is still supporting the work inside the lines. It is not as restrictive as it sounds!

Inside the lines is where the action is on the page and in life.

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