Tales from the Art Side Art Blog
Before my own children were born, I would spend my summer breaks teaching kids art. Only instead of big kids, I was teaching little kids, typically four to six year olds. I__™ve often said that after nine months of teenagers, teaching little kids was like desert. While I do love my high school kids, and the depth in which we can explore the arts together, they lack a few of the admirable attributes found in their toddling counterparts.
Try as I might, I do not believe I have ever managed to inspire those tiny artists as much as they did me. Paul Klee understood this when he noted, ___Children also have artistic ability, and there is wisdom in their having it! The more helpless they are, the more instructive are the examples they furnish us.___ There is a level of honesty and purity found in children__™s art that is simply impossible for an adult achieve. They are not tainted by fear or contaminated by formal training; they are living squarely in the moment and expressing themselves with a wildly contagious and enviable enthusiasm.
Picasso summed it up very succinctly when he stated that, ___All children are artists. The problem is how to remain an artist once he grows up.___ The artwork of young children is so captivating because it is fundamentally pure, motivated only by a genuine desire to create and explore. While we ___mature___ artists like to fancy our efforts as being sophisticated and thoughtful, we are but poor imitators of childlike exuberance. We pride ourselves on our innovative methods and techniques, yet we are simply groping around in the dark trying to regain even a glimmer of the freedom we enjoyed as children.
There is an overt sincerity in the way young children produce art. Their aesthetic decisions are not persuaded by the potential opinion of others. They are not concerned with stylistic expectations or name recognition. They are not interested in how realistic their drawings look. They have not learned to worry about ___ruining___ an artwork. Their tiny hearts and hands are completely unaffected by the large cache of emotional baggage most adult artists bring to the proverbial drawing board. We have so much to learn, or perhaps, to unlearn.
The slow and subtle development of fear is a crippling cancer that destroys creative integrity in teenagers and adults. We can become so committed to our irrational distress, allowing unimportant nonsense to influence us into a self-inflicted paralysis. We quite literally worry ourselves into a state artistic immobility. When I contrast that with swift and purposeful marks made by my four year old daughter, I almost laugh at the arrogance of calling myself an art teacher.
The artistic freedom children enjoy is a direct result of the complete lack of restraint they place on themselves. The art making experience is never more direct or intentional than it is in the hands of a child. They plunge into the creative encounter with a joyful abandon and produce works of such expressive character; works that allow us a precious glimpse into their unique and wonderful perception. Theirs is truly the only original art, and the methods and techniques they employ are beyond our understanding. Picasso knew this full well when commented, ___It took me four years to paint like Raphael, but a lifetime to paint like a child.___