Azerbaijan International

Summer 1999 (7.2)
Pages 86-87

Unlocking Children's Creativity

by Inna Kostina

Inna Kostina's Art StudentsVisit for more works of Inna Kostina

What's the secret behind unlocking a child's creativity in the Arts? What's the best way to work with children? How can you get them to express themselves creatively? Actually, in my own experience, I've found the answer is quite simple because children are not afraid of feeling, loving or expressing their feelings. I am absolutely convinced that all children have God-given talents. They are all good at sculpting, dancing, drawing and singing up until the time that adults burden them with complexes (often their very own) by criticizing them.

I never make a distinction between intelligent and unintelligent children-every child can create. Every child can vividly perceive the world around them and learn to express their feelings about it.

When adults pressure and criticize them, however, these talents become suppressed. By the time children become adults, these creative qualities have been replaced by workmanship, which is not the same thing as creativity. The few individuals who manage to keep the child inside them alive are the real geniuses.

Inna Kostina with students. First row (l-r): Teymur Mammadov, Igor Pokatilov and Kamran Hasanov. Standing: (clockwise from back) Teacher Inna Kostina, Natavan Aliyeva, Natavan Malikova, Leyla Aliyeva and Gunel Malikova.

Role of the Teacher

Art - Natavan Malikova
What exactly is the role of the teacher of art? I think children need teachers who will see each little child as a distinct personality and a creator and who will help them believe in their own abilities and power. The relationship between a child and a teacher must be built on affection and mutual confidence.

Myself, I don't teach children to draw in the sense of "school." My aim is to unleash the potential creative ability that already exists in every child from birth. I help them understand their feelings and express their personality in color in various media. I also teach them to open their eyes and see the beauty that surrounds their everyday lives.

Natavan Malikova, 6, "Portrait of Inna, my Teacher".

Art Classes
I like to organize classes for three to five children, ages 5 to 12. We begin each three-hour lesson with a discussion about art history-this provides a theoretical basis for our work. Based on the theme of the day, we review sketchbooks and slides and learn about various techniques. We do our work, not on a table or desks, but on a carpet, so the children are free to sit, lie down or crawl around as they wish.

Art - Leyla AliyevaNext, we move to the practical section. During this time, the kids express their feelings and practice what they've learned. If they choose to paint, I provide them with gouache paint and large sheets of paper. (This type of water-soluble paint can be removed if they decide to make a change.) They can also draw with colored chalk or pastels, make a collage, or make sculptures using a material like modeling clay. We sometimes even use bread. Any material can be used to express the feelings they have. And every lesson turns into a big holiday for all of us. We always take a break and have a little tea party, giving the children a chance to talk about anything they wish.

Leyla Aliyeva, 4, "Still Life With Candles", 60 x 42 cm, gouache on paper, 1997.

Gunel MalikovaFinally, we analyze and talk about each child's work so that they can learn from one another. All kinds of themes emerge in their artwork, including the circus, Noruz [Spring Solstice which traditionally marks the New Year], their families and friends, the Caspian sea, seasons, Christmas, butterflies and outer space.

Then there's Pushkin's Fairy Tales, Biblical stories like "Adam and Eve" and Greek myths such as the "Flight of Icarus".

Gunel Malikova, 7, "Little Red Riding Hood", 60 x 90 cm, gouache, 1997.

There's one other crucial element in the formula for successfully unlocking creativity in children-that is the home. Children need support from their families. Children take their cues from adults and become confident and positive about Art - Teymur Mammadtheir creative work if it is
appreciated at home. The success of our children is dependent upon the interaction of these three main elements: Teacher-Child-Family. Since I've started teaching children these past few years, it's curious how they have influenced my own professional artwork. They've taught me to look at the world in a different, more optimistic way. My own art has become warmer, brighter and fresher-thanks to them. It doesn't matter that they are five or six or seven years old. They, in fact, have much to offer and teach us adults as well.

Teymur Mammad, 7, "Horseman", 1997.

Inna Kostina is a professional artist herself in addition to cultivating the arts in children. Her students will be displaying their works in the group's second exhibition entitled "Seven Bright Butterflies" on June 2, 1999 in the Artists' Union on Khagani Street near the Turkish Embassy. More than 60 works will be on display. Each of these young people has participated in both national and international competitions. The works of Inna Kostina and her students will be exhibited on the AZ Art Gallery on the Internet organized by Azerbaijan International magazine. Visit beginning in mid-summer 1999. For more information about the exhibition, Mrs. Kostina can be reached at Hajibeyli Street 66/43 in Baku. Tel: (99-412) 62-77-98 (home) or 60-02-66 (studio).

Azerbaijan International (7.2) Summer1999.
© Azerbaijan International 1999. All rights reserved.

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