Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once we grow up. – Picasso
[Top Painting – Orange Gerbera Daisy – Painted by 4-Year-Old]
During the era of Romanticism, people began to view the child as something different than his adult counterparts. William Blake’s Songs of Innocence and Experience contrasted adults and children; and gradually, childhood was recognized by most as a special time of life. Children were understood to have qualities—especially those of the imagination and of intuitiveness—that adults no longer had. Nowhere is this more apparent than in art. Picasso understood the phenomenon.
Having taught art two-thirds of my life, I can say, with absolute confidence, that children are natural artists. In fact, I have said many, many times before that children are the only true artists: the rest of us just piggy-back and copy each other. Very young children do not reference anyone else when they paint. They just paint, and they do so brilliantly. A child’s colors land in the correct places, and their compositions are correct. A child’s paintings just happen, and they happen perfectly every time that a child is allowed to paint creatively. In my opinion, this happens because children have a clear path to their own intuitions.
“Intuition is a natural thing. We are all born with it. Young children are very intuitive, although in our culture they are often trained out of it very early.” Shakti Gawain – Developing Intuition: Practical Guidance for Daily Life – pgs. 21-22
Very young children do not intellectualize their marks. Instead, they play with their art materials; and they have fun. The art product is totally unimportant to a child painter. Children paint because they love painting, but something happens to the child’s perfect art experience. The Romantic poets would probably have said that in growing older, the child lost the magic of childhood, his intuitiveness, and because of that loss, he lost the ability to paint.
In creating, when an artist enters “the zone,” the intuition is what takes over. After that, artists often don’t know why they do what they do in making art. In creating visual art, something that leads the eyes and urges the hand to move speaks to the artist–or more specifically, it speaks to the artist’s hand. Each person has a unique voice coaching him, and as he listens to his own coach–his own set of directives–the artist begins a journey along a set of stepping stones that ultimately results in an artistic piece. [Allow me to add here, that when I am in a writing zone, the same things happes to me, with words].
Intuition is an inner prompting that urges the visual artist to add a dab of red here–an indigo blue line there–more yellow here, etc. When a painter is led by his intuition, he is almost on auto pilot. The following quote suggests that Michelangelo’s intuition prompted him, as he carved what he felt that the stone urged him to carve: “I saw the angel in the marble and carved until I set him free.” – Michelangelo
When an artist allows intuition to guide him, the artist himself becomes a vessel and the art pours from within that vessel. Children are naturally inclined toward being the intuitive vessels through which their art flows. As a child begins to mature, however, he begins trying to control when he is painting, and the intuitive response is sabotaged.
“Intuition is a natural thing.” Shakti Gawain – Developing Intuition: Practical Guidance for Daily Life – pgs. 21-22.
“The only real valuable thing is intuition.” – Albert Einstein
“Intuition is seeing with the soul.” – Dean Koontz
“Intuition is the highest form of intelligence, transcending all individual abilities and skills” – Sylvia Clare – Trusting your Intuition
Another Definition of Intuition – 1. the power or faculty of attaining to direct knowledge or cognition without evident rational thought and inference. 2. quick and ready insight.
“Intuition means exactly what it sounds like, in-tuition! An inner tutor or teaching and learning mechanism that takes us forward daily. It is a resource that, where recognized, has infinite potential.” – Sylvia Clare
“Intuition is a sense of knowing how to act spontaneously, without needing to know why. The why question leads to indecision, anxiety, caution and self-limitation. These are all responses which originate in fear-based emotions.” – Sylvia Clare
Lily painted by a 4-year-old
Perhaps an adult, someone whose judgment the child valued, said something like, “That doesn’t look like a lily.”
Or the adult’s attack may have been more subtle, saying something like, “That’s nice. What is it?”
Very quickly, the child artist begins to doubt himself. He may ask the seemingly competent adult how to draw a flower, and without realizing the damage, the adult complies with a stylized tulip, the flower that he himself memorized long ago; and the cycle begins.
The child who knew just exactly what to paint and how to paint it is replaced by another who, regardless of how hard he tries, can never seem to get it right.
The adult would-be artist studies drawing books. He watches videos where others show him how to paint this or that. He diligently tries to please himself with his art once more. But rarely does that happen again.
“It took me two years to learn to paint like Rembrandt and a life-time to learn to paint like a child.” – Pablo Picasso
©Jacki Kellum January 27, 2016