Learning Through Art: Creative Education for All the Family with Affordable Artwork

Art informs more in our lives than many of us realise and is an essential building block of all that we have ever learned. From language development and decision making to cultural awareness and improved achievement in all areas of life, there is much that can and should be taken from having art in the home and in our world.


Alvaro Tamarit is an award winning painter, sculptor, installations artist and designer, creator of furniture as art and one of our amazing artists here at St Mawes Gallery. He uses primarily ‘stranded’ or reclaimed and recycled materials to produce work of extraordinary beauty and power. He also produces work that looks and feels intimate – expressing his conviction that art should be close and intelligible. (You can see some of this work in our gallery.) It is a conviction that he not only believes but lives; since 1999, his exhibitions have been accompanied by “learning experiences and the development of educational workshops”.


As it turns out, in 1999 he was ‘ahead of the curve’ in terms of our understanding of the relationship between art, learning and cognitive development. Because of what we now know about that relationship, we also know Tamarit, (and those like him who bring art into the lives and experiences of as many people as they can), have been providing an outstanding and much needed service to humanity! Why is this?


From very early childhood all the arts, (music, dance, clay modelling, painting, drawing), assist in essential cognitive development. They support and encourage skills including:


* pattern recognition and development;

* making mental representations , or ‘imaging’ whatever is observed or imagined – a key factor in information storage and retention;

* creating and understanding symbolic or metaphorical representations, which is essential for the ‘sense making’ abilities required in later life

* observing detail

* recognising the relationship between parts of a whole and the whole, which is key to systems thinking

Discover Alvaro Tamarit Work

This is particularly true for very young children. Up to the age of three, neural connections are being made at an incredibly rapid rate, as whatever is experience is turned into ‘sense’, (the fixed way that we interpret reality). And billions of neural connections are made to build that sense into brain’s architecture. The process is called synaptogenesis. Artistic and creative activities and experiences foster the growth of cognitive, emotional, and psychomotor pathways.


“Given the impact on brain development that early experiences have, it is not surprising that several studies have uncovered significant long-term impacts of creative environments. They highlight how creative activities that encourage positive relationships can support the rapid blooming of synapses, leading to the formation of well-rounded personalities, good attachment, self-esteem and better mental health.[2]” https://earlyarts.co.uk/blog/creativity-in-early-brain-development.


Creating art, especially painting, can provide a kind of sanctuary for children. They can lose themselves in the physical act of applying paint or moulding clay arranging items to express an idea or a feeling. Art has long been recognised as a form of therapy because the act of creating is soothing and will often provide an outlet for feelings of sorrow, anger or frustration. A sense of accomplishment can even help to counterbalance these negative emotions.


It also develops critical-thinking skills as the ‘artist’ must make decisions about what works and what doesn’t on his or her own. Making mistakes is part of the process of creating art. In most educational settings, children quickly learn that making a mistake is ‘bad’ and frequently shameful. The human brain, however has evolved to learn through trial and error.


In other words, making and learning from mistakes is fundamentally necessary to real learning. Art provides an opportunity for learning the way that we are wired to learn. When children engage in artistic activities, experimenting, finding out what works and what doesn’t works for them, this ‘resets’ the brain and stimulates their capacity for learning in general. Both children and adults can learn to express themselves more deeply through art and will apply the lessons learned through their creative experiments, elsewhere in their lives.


Finally, children who are involved in art, especially painting, usually develop a lifelong appreciation of art . This means that the whole world of art - and all that it brings - will be open to them. And, as you may remember from one of our previous blogs, the appreciation of art is one of the most profoundly enjoyable and satisfying experiences available to the human senses!


Art is a gift to the world and, as we are discovering, one that is much more essential than we usually recognise. Thanks to artists like Alvaro Tamarit, not only is there more beauty in the world but the world itself is becoming a better place!