Homegrown with Hope: How to inspire young artists

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Inspiration comes from all around us. That's part of the message local artist Ali LaRock is teaching children in Bismarck-Mandan.

She invited families to Miss Sparkles's story time at the Bismarck Veterans Memorial Library for a live painting demonstration. As Miss Sparkles read the words on the page, LaRock painted the scene she was imagining. Through her artistic expression, she's teaching families how to inspire the imagination.

"Let them explore. Give them the tools and the space to explore," LaRock said. "If they're really little, I think play is a big aspect of that."

LaRock says art may not come in traditional forms for your family. A child may prefer creating with Play-Doh or clay more than crayons or paint. She encourages parents to expose their children to more forms of art, so they can find what they feel most passionate about. She says parents can be active in that by noticing what their children are interested in.

"Maybe they're really into dinosaurs. Buy them some dinosaur toys, not only to play with, but to draw. Take them to the heritage center with a sketch book and draw a dinosaur," she recommended.

She also says the earlier we encourage children to exercise their creativity, the stronger the foundation is for their self-confidence. To help with that, she tells parents to stick to the facts with their comments or questions about their children's art. She recommends saying "you worked really hard to draw that," or "tell me about your idea," to help young artists not to feel judged while they create.

You can learn more about LaRock by visiting www.alilarock.com.