This post was originally featured in our June 23rd newsletter. Subscribe to receive information, news, invitations to events, and more!

Teaching kids to stop looking for perfection

An interview with one of our instructors

Receiving excessive observations from teachers, parents or guardians can model perfectionist tendencies in children; today we invited one of our art instructors to share her views on perfectionism and how we can learn to celebrate every step on the way of a child’s learning curve. 

Carley Gibbs is a prime example of Artmania’s main ethos that art is about the journey. Embrace your mistakes, and learn about the incredible discoveries your art can provide. Carley went to Ecole Pauline Johnson from ages 7-12 where she attended Artmania’s Director, Mary Hay’s art classes herself. She then went on to study Arts & Entertainment Management at Capilano University to complete her love for the artistic world. 

Carley Gibbs is an Art Instructor at Artmania, she is also our Office Manager

A: How long have you been teaching your students?
CG: I have been working with many groups of students with Artmania for a year now.

A: How do you feel about the results obtained after this past year? 
CG: I could not be prouder of what they have created. The students finished strong, they were able to take up the challenges and also supported each other!

A: What do you think about perfectionism when teaching art classes?
CG: When speaking on this specific topic, I always value listening to my students and have to reassure them that messing up is not the end of the world, it is about learning not being perfect.

A: Well… a lot of people think that studying art is about learning very specific drawing skills, let’s think about the ancient Greeks seeing perfection as a requisite for beauty and real or ‘high art’
CG: Searching for perfection can often lead to missing the whole journey. Art is always about the journey. The journey it took to make the piece, the journey it took to make it to its final home, and the journey it will take people on when they look at it. Don’t miss the best part about art: being creative and trying new things.

“Don’t miss the best part about art: being creative and trying new things”

A: But as artists we are familiarized with the feeling of artworks not being ‘good, or perfect’; how do you think you teach your students that imperfection is ok?

CG: Although many people are looking for perfection in their art, many people also carry positive feelings towards imperfections and their positive side effects. Artmania is proud to teach students of all ages a multitude of artistic practices and we are constantly aware of the societal pressures put on children to do well or be perfect at everything they do.

I teach comics often, where students learn to create their own comic book stories in a multitude of ways like short comics, flip books, claymation, etc. This can be challenging for them when they can’t think of an idea, they can often feel stuck because they don’t want to make the wrong choice. Learning to develop their ideas is the most important aspect of doing artistic work. You have to learn to plan, try, fail, plan, try, and possibly succeed after that, but often artists can do 2-5 practice works to get them ready for their finale. 

When this comes up, I have to remind the students that making mistakes is always going to be a part of the learning experience. From your mistakes you can learn what you would do differently next time, this knowledge is just as valuable as completing your first colour chart perfectly. 

Help children feel better about their artistic creations:

  • Acknowledge the effort made to attend and follow the classes
  • Encourage self-compassion and self-reflection
  • Don’t compare their results with anyone else’s
  • Encourage high standards, not perfectionism 
  • Provide unconditional love


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