Over the past two weeks, my children have only had three days of school, which means we’ve had A LOT of downtime at home. My son wanted nothing to do with the snow, and the girls lasted about five minutes before they were whimpering to come back inside.
Art has always been a resting place for me, and now, as a mother of three, I am also benefitting from its ability to occupy my children! I am quite certain we would not have survived the past two weeks without new watercolors and crayons at our disposal.
As a parent, it’s exciting to see your kids gravitate to the things you are passionate about. I love watching my children embrace their creativity. It fascinates me that at such a young age their artwork already reflects their unique personalities.
By the end of the week, I had massive stacks of kid-art crowding my desk, so I decided to spread them all out on the floor. Here’s an aerial view. That’s not even all of it!
My oldest daughter is energetic, determined, and detail-oriented. She is a girly-girl who loves fashion and pretty things. She says she wants to be an artist when she grows up. She drew a few self-portaits this past week…all lashes, lips, and earrings.
Perhaps this sounds a bit dramatic, but I feel humbled when I look at my children’s artwork. There is no pride, no inhibition, no self-consciousness. They follow their impulses and don’t second-guess themselves. They aren’t bound by perfectionism.
As adults, I think that self-consciousness can make us or break us. It can drive us to improve our craft as we become aware of what works, what doesn’t, and why, but it can also paralyze us with fear. There is a certain beauty that comes from a child’s innocence. Their art is bold, raw, and unhindered.
My second-born daughter is more of an abstract artist. She is also not a rule-follower by nature. She is our free spirit who marches to the beat of her own drum, a quiet soul with an active (and unpredictable) inner life. I love how this quality shows up in her art work as well!
At the age of four, she is already exploring the relationship between shape and color and letting these things stand for themselves on the page. If you ask her “What are you painting?” she looks at you in disgust…as if to say, “If you don’t know, then I’m not going to waste my time telling you.” I love her sass and confidence.
And…my boy…is all boy, with big strokes of brown and black, perhaps some green or blue mixed in, big blobs of color side by side. He is three and is still learning to rinse his brush between colors. He has meticulous hands, an eye for detail, and I look forward to see how this translates to his art work as he grows.
The poet Dean Young writes that “Everyone is a good poet up until the third grade. I saw it when I taught as a poet in the schools. The sublime coincides with the ridiculous, babble with referent, the witnessed phenomena with the combustion of name in song of dazzling appeal, of play. The alphabet presents itself as an unsolvable mystery to be frolicked it.” (The Art of Recklessness p13)
Young’s words also remind me of one of my favorite quotes by Picasso:
I suppose, as adults, we are always trying to get back to who we were as children, before self-awareness and insecurity came into play. A few weeks ago, my daughter, Tess, told me,
“I am just me. I am just Tess.”
The simplicity of a child, the way they exist in the world, without pretense or assumptions, is one of the greatest blessings of parenthood.
Little do they know how much they inspire me to keep writing and painting…
…to not be so critical of myself…
and to have the courage to share with others…
How have you “stayed an artist” as an adult?
What, or who, inspires you in your creative work?