How can we encourage our daughter as an artist?

Our daughter, who is 14 years old, has some talent in drawing. She is also a writer, and has a great imagination. She has expressed interest in going to the Ringling School of Art here in Sarasota, in order to learn computer animation.

We’ve recently gotten her started with an art teacher. The drawing she produced in her first lesson was pretty amazing, and more importantly, she was very happy with it, so I feel we’re basically on the right track.

What I am specifically asking about are suggestions on how to introduce her to different kinds of visual art (and whether or not to do so). I want to encourage her to develop her own style, and to make sure she doesn’t get too much of a message that art is produced in a certain way, and anything else is “wrong”. I was thinking mebbe a simple book about art, something that shows a variety of different styles?

A complication is that our daughter is an Aspie, so she can get kind of rigid in regards to rules. That’s part of the reason I want to expose her to different styles of art early in her artistic development.

Any and all feedback and suggestions will be appreciated. I’m not just looking for books for her; I am struggling with how best to support and encourage her.

Since this is mainly about art, let’s try it in Cafe Society.

General Questions Moderator

I was wondering if I had the right forum. Thanks, Colibri!

Depends on which values of “support and encourage” you’re using. Paying for lessons, supplies, entry fees for contests/drawings, trips to museums…all that counts.

In terms of gifts…maybe a book on art history, or comparing different styles/periods, or tracing the use of particular media…

How about taking her to an art exhibit or museum? I don’t know how often you’re in the D.C. area, but the National Gallery is nice.

I hope that we will be taking her to the Ringling Museum over Christmas break. Part of the challenge is that I am disabled and can’t travel much, and she, being an Aspie, has a very hard time being willing to do something new. Those are a couple of reasons I am looking for suggestions of books or mebbe websites that I can share with her.

I really wish I could take her to D.C. for a number of reasons, but I don’t see that happening. =-(

And, Oakminster, I am looking for more ways to encourage her, but without forcing her. I struggle to offer her opportunities, but the difficulty of dealing with this particular Aspie is that, if she gets the idea that she’s doing something “wrong”, she is likely to abandon the effort. She stopped drawing for quite some time, for example, because she had taught herself all that she could, and didn’t know how to draw what was in her head. Her first lesson with this new teacher taught her shading, which was a breakthrough for her. She was thrilled and felt competent (a big need for her). I know that if I had pushed or forced her to keep drawing during her dry spell, it probably would have turned her off from drawing at all.

I just want to show her, in a very no-pressure way, that there are different styles of art. I know absolutely nothing about art, though, so I was hoping for some specific books or websites, as well as whatever other thoughts y’all might have on dealing with a temperamental artist. :wink:

You just answered your own question.

The key is to show here all the different kinds of art and leave it up to her to decide what she likes and why. Don’t push anything.

Just say this style of art is…XXX and this style is…YYY

Nothing turns a creative person off as much as being pushed. Just exposing her to the various art forms is enough and let her own interest develop.

Then when you see she likes one kind of art, have her look up it on the Wikipedia and learn about, maybe even contribute to the Wikipedia article.

Some people only have one style and they want to stick to it. That’s fine, if that’s there thing.

Just keep exposing her to different types of art. Encourage her to try new things, at least once. And then let her run with it. With the Internet the whole world of art is at her fingertips.

Nice big coffee-table type art books would probably be a good option - perhaps from a used book store?

For online, how about

It seems to have a pretty good community and things like “safe filters”. It’s a mix of art and photography, but either might encourage and inspire.

There are other similar online art communities and galleries if you poke around on google. . .

If she wants to learn how to draw, she should watch some of the many amazing time lapse sketches on YouTube and imitate them. Her imitations will start out as garbage, but then she’ll begin to realize why and understand the different techniques that seemed alien at first, and develop better coordination along the way. Once she gets more proficient with shading, then even sketching the basics of a portrait or image and shading in the rest is great practice.

Here are some portraits:

Marylin Monroe:
Leonard Cohen:
Tim Roth:

I agree, access to visuals of different styles in addition to the lessons = great idea.

Perhaps have a word with the teacher to make sure to expose her to different styles? It would be a serious shame for her to get in the hands of someone like one of my middle school teachers … if it wasnt impressionism it sucked and was not worth studying [my particular style is dali like , which horrified him]

Since you said she tends to internalize rules strongly as she is an aspie … have the teacher ‘assign’ projects, like one week work in the style of van Gogh, then in the style of Gauguin, then Dali … so she learns a bit about different styles. Maybe also cover stuff like linoleum prints, water color, acrylic, decoupage …

Yeah, buy her a nice art book of some kind. Some kind of retrospective with big glossy pages.

I’m not sure if this is a very good suggestion, but you can usually get some pretty great large format coffee table art books at places even like Barnes and Noble. There’s a section of tremendously reduced price books that usually have great collections of famous artists. Get her a Picasso, a Monet, a Van Gogh and a Georgia O’Keefe to start out with. OK, those are some of my favorite artists, but you can’t really go wrong with those guys.

Being an Aspie, she might prefer someone a bit more realistic like Rembrandt. Michelangelo or Winslow Homer. On the other hand, all these artists have painterly styles that are not particularly easy to mimic, so maybe they might not be great examples for her.

I’m not sure if this is what you are looking for, but here are a few websites that have images (and some historical/descriptive text) showing different types of fine arts. I didn’t spend a lot of time looking at these, so I would suggest that you review them first to make sure that the content is appropriate for your daughter. There are probably also educational materials available at the websites of other larger museums.

MOMA NY online collection
Web Museum Paris (this site has a substantial amt of text as well as art images)
famous artists gallery
portitude classic art gallery

The way I, a non-artist, was introduced to the different styles of art was with a Humanities book from the local Community college. Humanities and Values, Western Civilization, etc… Each chapter went through a different era, with sections devoted to a. politics, b. music, c. art. I really was impressed, so go to a local CC library, and check one of their recent textbooks.


Art lessons, lots of them. I was fortunate to have a high school with an excellent art dept., so I was exposed to a lot of different things. If your district is not as well equipped, I would seek out qualified art teachers for extracurricular lessons.

The emphasis for her now should not be styles of artwork, but mastering basic techniques and learning to work in different media. Hopefully, you can find art teachers who already know this stuff and are able to expose her to a lot of different methods of creating art.

Some things:

  • live figure drawing; probably the single most important thing any artist can do, in my opinion. The format of these sessions provides a tremendous opportunity to learn about so many things: proportion, space, shape, line, light; plus, you get in the habit of drawing A LOT. That was one thing that caught my attention in your OP: “The drawing she produced in her first lesson was pretty amazing.” In my opinion, a learning artist would be better served by making dozens of extremely quick drawings in a session, so she can (a) learn to see and work on all parts of a drawing at once–rather than getting tunnel vision on any small portion of it–and (b) learn not to treat any single drawing as precious. If she’s going to be an artist, she’s going to make thousands of drawings, most of them awful, over the years. You have to throw out a lot of drawings to find the ones that are good.

the figure drawing sessions are also a great occasion to explore different media: pencil, marker, charcoal, chalk, pastel, crayon, paint

  • sculpture - especially if she’s interested in computer animation (which nearly always means 3D animation), she would be well served by learning a good deal about sculpture. It’s a huge field, and beyond my specific experience, but just getting started and getting familiar with crafting three-dimensional representations of things, etc., would seem essential

  • painting - the specifics of mastering painting techniques – how to wield brushes, how to prepare a surface, how to mix colors, etc. – is important for a young artist to learn, but more important is probably the color theory/knowledge/aesthetic sense she’ll pick up in the process. Also, painting allows you to approach art differently than drawing: you can render entire shapes very quickly, instead of just the lines that define those shapes

  • photography - photography is a great tool for learning more about light and more about composition. The best thing about it is that (esp. with digital cameras) it’s fast, and easy to capture lots and lots of images. So, whereas composing a drawing might take a while, you can test out several dozen different compositions in minutes with a camera. And, again, you approach it with the idea that you’re going to throw out 90% of your photos, so no single act of creating art becomes too precious.

There’s a lot to learn, even just to get broad exposure, but the basics, in my opinion, would be live figure drawing, painting (esp. to learn how to deal with color), some introduction to theories about perspective (hopefully covered along the way), and, since she’s interested in computer animation, sculpture.

But above all: QUANTITY. The only way to improve is simply an insane amount of practice.

Tell her if she does not draw well you will kick her ass.

My BFF son is an Aspie and he loves to doodle all the time. He did a comic book called, ‘The Adventures of Super Toilet’, which was about …a toilet. It was superawesome on a dorkwad kid level. I loves me some geek kids.

I gave him an artist book and some pencils after that. Dad ( an aspie himself) loved it. Mom was slightly annoyed. ( She doesn’t ‘get’ doodling.)

That’s like saying you don’t “get” singing along to songs!

Being a bit atavistic, a touch autistic, I would say a great teacher is in order. Somebody of her own level… somebody who can be clear, compassionate, concise, and transcendent/relatic=vistic. She needs a seed, not a mandate.

I don’t know if this will necessarily address what you’re after, but the best collections of digital artwork, in my opinion, can be found in the Exposé books from Ballistic Publishing.

Incredibly wide variety of art styles, and subject matter, by the best digital artists working in the world today. Every page is an inspiration.