The impulse and ability to create art is one of the highlights of being human. It's a key quality that sets us apart from the animal world, one that makes life more meaningful and enjoyable.
While there are artistic skills that make it easier for people to bring their imaginations into the visible, tangible world, art doesn't abide by any hard and fast rules. Especially kids' art. Especially young kids' art.
That's why Gemma Leighton, mother of 6-year-old Edie, shared her daughter's painting on Twitter with a request for support. Edie created the painting in an after school art club, and her art teacher told her she did it wrong.
"You can't do art wrong!" wrote Leighton. "She was so upset as art is her favourite thing to do."
My 6 year old daughter painted this amazing scene at an after school art club. Her art teacher told her she had do… https://t.co/GVKcKYbWtf— Gemma Leighton (@Gemma Leighton)1618998792.0
Now, we don't know exactly what the teacher said to Edie, but if a 6-year-old comes home upset and feeling like there's something wrong with their art, the teacher did something wrong. Full stop. Six-year-olds are just beginning to learn about technique, and encouragement is the most vital thing a teacher can offer a budding artist.
The internet rightfully pounced to Edie's defense, and the responses are incredibly heartwarming.
Many people shared how hurt they were as children when a teacher told them something was wrong with their art—and that they were wrong. Knowing that grown-ups had experienced the same kinds of unnecessary criticism as kids and realized that it was wrong can help Edie feel confident that her painting is not "wrong."
@HelenKennedy @GemLeighton I give you the great Harry Chapin... https://t.co/D0LXWN1NSn— James Smith (@James Smith)1619061696.0
@xxdr_zombiexx @GemLeighton @hygarner The humiliation of having your work criticized by a teacher never goes away.… https://t.co/83bXEfefpp— Sandra Byer (@Sandra Byer)1619064489.0
Others pointed out the famous artists that her painting reminded them of. Seeing how her own painting reflects some of the style and color choices of professional artists can help Edie see the spark of genius in her own artwork.
Songwriter Kimya Dawson, most famous for her songs in the movie Juno, shared that a middle school English teacher had told her to stop writing poems because they were "too juvenile."
"I never stopped though and making rhyming poems has been my career for over 20 years!" Dawson wrote. "Your painting is perfect! Keep it up! Don't worry what anyone else thinks."
@mrskimyadawson @GemLeighton i remember my senior year high school teacher telling us rap wasn’t poetry...smh— Joél Leon. (@Joél Leon.)1619097777.0
@perezparedes That is fabulous! Edie did a bit of van gogh too https://t.co/DM1B9SPyvx— Gemma Leighton (@Gemma Leighton)1619030744.0
Professional artists chimed in with words of encouragement, pointing out that Edie's use of perspective and expressionism were quite impressive for her age.
@JonathanBSmall I told her how amazed I was by her use of perspective, that's when she told me the after school clu… https://t.co/I7ZPsryUV8— Gemma Leighton (@Gemma Leighton)1619023886.0
"The only 'wrong' is not making art that speaks from your heart," wrote an artist who goes by @Artsy on Twitter. "When she expresses her passion, her vision of her world, her personal reactions to what she sees and feels, she'll never be 'wrong.'"
@GemLeighton @ErinSnider10 I’ve been an artist for most of my life, one thing I know: The only “wrong” is not makin… https://t.co/VE4seKRbru— Artsy (@Artsy)1619060682.0
Even KISS guitarist Paul Stanley offered Edie words of encouragement.
"Your art is AWESOME!!!" he wrote. "There is no such thing as doing art 'wrong.' There are only teachers who are wrong!!! Your art shows amazing freedom and spirit. How can that be 'wrong'?!?! Keep doing EXACTLY what you are doing. I LOVE it!!!"
Edie... Your art is AWESOME!!! There is no such thing as doing art “wrong”. There are only teachers who are wrong”… https://t.co/rlEwCxFFtP— Paul Stanley (@Paul Stanley)1619058568.0
Imagine being a heartbroken 6-year-old who has been told by a teacher that her art was wrong, and then seeing a flood of thousands of supportive comments from people who looked at the same piece of art and told you what they loved about it. This is how social media should be used. To lift people up, to encourage and inspire, to share beauty and creativity.
Leighton created a new Twitter account called Edie's Art for people to share kids' artwork, and gracious, it's a delight to peruse. There's nothing more pure, more colorful, more full of life than art that came from a child's imagination. They may not have the technical skills to perfectly create what they envision in their minds or what they're looking at for inspiration, but that's part of what makes it so beautiful. They aren't self-conscious enough yet to hold back, and their art comes from a place of confidence and acceptance of their own abilities—that is, until some adult comes along and squashes their artistic spirit.
@EdiesArt Edies watercolor masterpiece is engaging and harmonious!! My 9 yr old daughter Evie created these. Thanks… https://t.co/ym7OlmDsVH— TexasMom (@TexasMom)1619100220.0
@EdiesArt Love your art Edie! This is my 7-year-old’s Picasso-inspired painting. I’m a very proud mummy. https://t.co/n9vI4JjKLu— Rachel Woollett (@Rachel Woollett)1619085894.0
@EdiesArt I love to encourage my 7-year-old's joy for painting! What a lovely space you've created on here. Here is… https://t.co/rtGoAH4J8U— Rachelle Akuffo (@Rachelle Akuffo)1619106014.0
One of my favorite things as a parent has been watching my kids' artistic expressions evolve as they've grown, and I've loved their artwork at every stage. And not just because I'm their mom, but because kid creations are the best reminder of how natural the human impulse to create really is, and how beautiful it is when we share that impulse without fear or doubt.
Keep painting, Edie. Don't let one person's opinion—even a teacher's—hold you back.
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