Kids Know

Friday, July 25, 2014

Kids Know

“Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once we grow up.”
Pablo Picasso

Another reason I didn’t want lessons: I believed Picasso. I wanted access to the spontaneous, natural quality of play that children bring to art-making. I’d lost it, and I wanted it back.

Today, some of my favorite studio visitors are my nephews and the neighborhood kids. They walk in and immediately want to get involved. They pick up my brushes and pallet knives and start poking at the piles of paint. They walk up to my canvas and slide their grubby hands across the surface, feeling for the wet parts. Of course I have to intervene, but I do this by acknowledging their curiosity and excitement, their desire to participate in the action. I grab a sketchbook and the jumbo box of crayons I keep for just these occasions. I lay them out on the floor and say, “Here, make something too. Let’s make stuff together.”

Their pictures amaze me. Usually, they’ve looked up at my painting for inspiration and made a simplified and highly creative interpretation of my composition. I look down at their work and think, “I wish I’d made that. I’m stealing that.” Their work is innocent yet sophisticated, confident without the slightest hint of ego. That’s the purity of children for you–and that’s art enough for me.

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