Monday, May 4, 2009

you are, you know

"friends get along", coleen, age 4
When I was in high school, my summer job was assistant teaching 3-5 year olds at the local art museum. It was the perfect job for the consummate art loving babysitter. If I took anything away from that job it was one thing {actually two, when mothers drop off a screaming child, they really do stop crying once you're gone - within about 3 minutes if that helps} it was that EVERYone is an artist. That means you.
tanya, age 3
This is how I know: At the start of every 2 week session, each young student was so adamant for us to know, when we'd ask,
who amongst them was an artist,
that they were 'an artist'. In fact you could see it in their physical energy as they half stood, half sat, legs still crossed at the ankles, jabbing their rigid little arms into the air with ferocity and deep conviction. 'me!, me!, me!, me!' They'd yell.
desh, age 6
And later, when projects were well underway, and little hands were elbow deep into a 5 year old's rendition of Joseph Cornell’s, "A Pantry Ballet" {a shadow box with dancing lobsters in tutus} arguments would break out over who was copying whose work. For each artist understood, viscerally, that never would their be another piece as unique and perfect in its self expression as their very own.
I'm not sure what happens to most of us a few years later, but something tells us, at around age 8, that we're not artists.
madeline, age 5
Several years later I saw one of these students at a party. I told him that he was once in my art class. He blushed, and said something like, "No way, I'm terrible at art. My mom must have forced me into it." And the funny thing is, he was the kid that often needed time outs for being so proprietorial over his creations.
ingrid, age 4
And so while my other friends were doing much more enviable jobs, such as swingin' their whistle, atop life guard stands. I challenge them to tell me, what life lesson that summer job taught them {ok, besides it's preferable to wear a higher spf than baby oil}
At the risk of sounding as if I'm trying to be a wise elder; on this Monday, I encourage each of us, to go out, create without self criticism or doubt. You really are an artist and always have been. Art, Design etc, it's all self expression and never right nor wrong. Choose your medium of choice, and go for it. Express yourself in the most uniquely 'you' way.
all art in this post {except the photo above} is from theblog weemade- a user generated showcase of the art of children.
scan and post your child's artwork or your own from when you were a kid.

21 comments:

Linda Merrill said...

This is SO true! It's amazing, and terribly sad, that little kids are so free to express themselves and as we get older, we start holding back and self-rejecting. Is everyone going to be a Picasso? No. But, one wonders how many Picasso's have missed their calling out of adult fear of being wrong. Great post! (and, I'm not just saying that!)

Mrs. Blandings said...

Megan - there's a picture of Sandy Calder's art from childhood in the book I have on him. Completely ordinary extraordinary childhood art. You never know what's going to come next if you give it a try.

M.Lane said...

A great post and SO true!! I can trace the end of my painting life to my jr. high art teacher who repeatedly refused to accept my meagre efforts and demanded that I draw a vase I couldn't draw. Oh well. At least my english teacher liked what I wrote...

ML
mlanesepic.blogspot.com

Tracy said...

I think it's when teachers start to repeatedly praise a particular student's work in front of an entire classroom, that the children begin to judge each other as 'good' or 'bad' artists. I remember being very uncomfortable being judged a good artist by my teachers and peers... I didn't like the attention and I felt bad for the kids who didn't get praised, because to me, my ability to draw a lifelike cow was something I just came equipped with.
This 'good' vs 'bad' judgement of each others' art began for my daughter in about the third grade. She was praised for her creative abilities as well, but judged herself 'not as good as Heidi', whose work, unbeknownst to Heidi, became the bar my daughter set for herself all the way through elementary and high school.
She's an art history major now--my daughter--I don't know where Heidi headed off to after graduation--probably to some brainiac college on a full scholarship because she was one of those super over-achievers who was good at EVERYTHING! Wherever she is, I hope she's still making art!

Room Service ~ Decorating 101 said...

This was a very touching post. I loved seeing the art and you were wonderful with the text. So interesting and beauiful at the same time. Thanks

abigail said...

these are wonderful!

LIBERTY POST EDITOR said...

I have also believed that there is 'no bad art' just differect perspectives of it. I love this post. My 7 year old niece is such an avid artist. I hope she remains passionate. Negative people get inside our heads and then we start to believe they are right.

Dumbwit Tellher ♥ said...

Simply wonderful post. Rang true for me. Thank you!

katiedid said...

Interesting comment from Tracey. I have two very creative daughters who are amazing artists. One daughter (the elder) was of course more proficient (by that I mean more practiced) than the other (being older) so the younger never thought of herself as a very good artist. As she is getting older...with lots of encouragement from her parents and praise from her peers...she has come to beleive that she is very creative and an excellent graphic artist. I suppose it is very much from the judgement by others that we decide what we are "good" at. It would be nice if we just did what we enjoyed whether best at it or not.

royal creme said...

There is much that life can take out of us. It's such a gift when you can recapture a little of your innocence and be open to all that you can be...

Hill Country House Girl said...

What a wonderful post. I love art - all forms of it. I especially love my daughters' art and have several pieces of it framed and hanging with what some might call the "real art". I agree with Katie - sadly we measure ourselves too often by how others measure us and this is particularly true with art. Thanks for a very thought provoking post and great photos!

Katherine Lee said...

What a lovely post! I think children have the best design sense out of anyone. Their lack of inhibition allows them to really make totally unique expressions of themselves. I'm in love, and I love Picasso's quote!
xo Katherine aka. Urban Flea :)
check out www.urbanfleadesign.com!

Karena said...

Such a thoughtful and true posting Megan. It can take years to undo critisism we hear as a child. It takes so little to say encouraging words of praise.

Anonymous said...

This is a fabulous post! It really makes me think about how we imprint on children at such an early age things that will affect them their entire lives.

Cheers,
Jaime

mary said...

Wonderful post!!!!!!I could get on my soap box regarding "what teachers do to cuildren's creativity"...but I will refrain. It has taken me years to realize that we are all artists in unique ways and developing that uniqueness is the only way to wholeness--thank you for reminding me.

Richie Designs said...

PERFECT!

Real Card Studio said...

Really beautiful pieces from such young artists! I love it!

franki durbin said...

this really speaks to me. when I was in high school I told my parents I wanted to go to the Art Institute of ATL (we lived on the east coast at the time). My father told me definitively "you'll never make money as an artist"...

Well fast forward years later and I'm proud to say I do make money as an "artist" - good money. Sure, I'm not drawing pretty pictures, but design is an artform and I'm proud of the fact that I never let go of my dream.

I'll be sure I never discourage a child from loving art. It really is an expression of self!

La Maison Fou said...

Megan,
Such a good post, & love the Picasso I have this quote in my studio, on the wall for inspiration. You know, Picasso mastered the art of painting when he was young & spent the rest of his life trying to capture the way a child draws & paints!
Leslie

VictoriaArt said...

Thank you for such an amazing thoughtful post, it's all about keeping self-confidence intact and that wonderful feeling of having created something unique, unmistakable yours.

PS: I enjoy your skirted roundtable discussions very very much!
Victoria

wide open spaces said...

I Love this. I am reading the artist's way and I just read that Picasso quote. For the record, I would happily pay Ingrid for her piece and hang it proudly above my mantel.

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