8 Questions to Ask Children about Their Art Work

When your child brings home a piece of art work, it's important to do more than just hang it up on the refrigerator. In this post, I provide you with eight questions you can ask your child about his or her art work to encourage self-awareness and critical thinking. Click through to read the post!

Your child (or student) comes to you with a picture she has just drawn. You look at it and say something like, “Wow, that’s beautiful.” Then, you put it on the fridge. And that is pretty much it. While there is nothing wrong with this scenario, if you want your child to think critically and creatively about her art, you could use this opportunity to ask some questions. Here are some suggestions to get you started:

  1. What can you tell me about your picture? This open-ended question is a great way to get kids talking about their art. It is especially good if you cannot tell what the picture is. Nothing worse than saying, “What a lovely horse,” only to have the child tell you it is supposed to be a dog.
  2. How did you get the idea for this picture? By explaining the inspiration, the child recognizes his own creative spark and makes the connection from real-life events to artistic creation.
  3. What do you like about your picture? This question encourages the child to look carefully at his art and make a judgment. More importantly, this question teaches your child to value his own internal validation rather than performing in hopes of gaining the approval of others.
  4. What title would you give this work? Titles can offer a new dimension to a piece of art. Also, a title encourages your child to think about the main idea or concept of her work.
  5. Why did you…use brown for the sky? Make the girl so much larger than the boy? Use only the bottom of the paper? Basically, ask why the child decided to draw or color a specific element of the work in a particular way. Make sure your tone is neutral – you are asking for clarity, not judging or criticizing the work.
  6. How were you feeling when you made this picture? You are asking them to connect emotions with creative expression.
  7. How do you hope other people will feel when they look at your picture? This allows the child to put himself in another’s position and imagine how his work affects that person. You could also make this question more specific by naming a particular person: How do you think grandma will feel when she looks at your picture?
  8. If you could make this picture again, what would you do differently? Professional artists often make many versions of the same picture, trying new things, tweaking, and experimenting. Encourage your young artist to do the same.
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10 thoughts on “8 Questions to Ask Children about Their Art Work”

  1. Good stuff. I'm rarely at a loss for words. 🙂 But these are great conversation starters and put the value of the artwork back into the artist's hands.

  2. i would change only one question–the first one–i would ask, "WHAT can you tell me about your picture?". that way the focus is on one of the investigatory processes, and not just on giving a yes or no answer.

  3. Wow, what great questions! I've always asked the first one but the rest are awesome. Thanks for this communication resource.

  4. Great questions. So many people are quick to give out the standard, "it's beautiful!" or "I love it!" which gives the child no useful feedback.

  5. gretchen buwalda

    These questions all have a valid purpose. I will encourage our parents to consider these questions at our up and coming art display. Thanks for posting.

  6. Love this! I will use with my kids for sure! One suggestion on the ‘why did you…’ question. In our society we are conditioned to hear a ‘why’ question as implying we did something wrong (think ‘why did you do that’), which I believe is why you indicate the importance of tone. Changing to ‘How did you decide to…’ can help with that unconscious bias and also help the child recognize their own reasoning and how these choices add flavor. Great article.

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