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Never misplace your child’s paintings, and always be aware of their importance. Not only do they bring back precious memories, but they are also undeniable proof that true works of art can exist; creative and original, artistic beyond words worthy of expressing their depth of importance in one’s life. On looking at my grandchildren’s art, my heart celebrates the lingering joy which I feel in their (and my own) excitement of the process of expressing their true selves, the real being of part of humanity, the essence of innocence, of freedom and uninhibited completeness of themselves in their happy world. To you as parents, as well as to those who know them and especially to themselves, their early paintings will be a joy that will live in hearts as long as they beat.
Children’s worlds are expressed in their paintings. I have observed with great excitement, their own excitement as they name each dab of paint and each brush stroke (regardless of whatever color or shape) some part of their young lives’ environment: mama; daddy; the moon; the sun; stars; houses; trees; favorite toys; friends; animals and other important subjects in their environments and in their experiences during their first three or four years of life. Perhaps these paintings should be named simply, “My Child’s World”.
In a child’s paintings, every line, every color, every shape, every stroke has real meaning to that child. Early on, a child should be given the three primary colors (red, blue, yellow) to use. The only instruction given should be to ask the painter to mix red and yellow, yellow and blue, and blue and red, and then watch your child’s eyes, the expression on his/her face, the joy and amazement seen deep within when your child has created for the first time the secondary colors. Then with complete freedom, he should be allowed to continue to experiment by moving paints into the third realm of colorings. Then watch as your child mixes enough of the three primary colors to create brown….there is likely to be laughter. Adding white and black to change hues can be such a great experience for children. Creating shapes, hues, lines, spaces that he alone has made is art. After all, art is creating something original that is not copied…..something that no one else has ever made. Think: there is only one “Mona Lisa”….there are thousands of copies which can show great technique or knack, but there is only one real “Mona Lisa”.
When your child is experiencing the making of his early creations, you as a parent should give very few instructions. Just enjoy watching your child as he, with great glee, leaps into the ocean of free expression. Sometimes this freedom is limited to only the first years before his formal schooling begins. The sheer unmitigated laughter that sometimes occurs during the creation of the early paintings will ring in your heart for years to come. And you will always wish that he could recapture that early freedom of expression. With your help (and lack thereof) and with the help of an understanding teacher, your child could maintain such freedom, but far too often (almost always) children are “trained” to stay inside the lines. That lesson is so important in many phases of life, and it is a gifted parent or teacher who can teach that lesson without killing natural creativity. If this is done successfully, then the great excitement combined with the joy of envisioning the important things (subjects, items, experiences) in the world and being able to express their meaningfulness to us all by use of paint (or by spoken or written words, or by music) can enable the artist to create beautiful works of true art.
After a certain young age has passed (depending on his teachings as well as his ability to rebel against some teachings) it is unlikely that he can ever express freedom again….so completely uninhibited. If he can, it is most commonly done within his mind, not as an outward expression. Society by its nature will destroy the ability to display and expose oneself in such an open way again. Why? Because there is learning that has to take place, social standards that have to be set, laws that have to be obeyed: all of which make for a good social existence; all of which also destroy creativity and inhibit self-expression. In all of the earth’s great population, percentage-wise only a few become great leaders in the arts, in governments, education and humanitarianism. We all benefit from the few.
As I look at my grandsons’ art pieces, I remember that I, too, once had what they have….that of which they could soon be robbed. Of course, I, too, lost it. It is something one cannot claim again and retrieve and pull back into one’s self. Education far too often teaches most of us to keep inside the lines, to walk the beaten path, to say the right words, to sing instead of compose, to watch instead of dance, to work instead of play, to listen instead of express……to observe instead of paint.
As your child grows older, show him his early paintings as a reminder that he might still find a bit of freedom left in his creative mind. Try to help your teen-ager to keep some of the charm and wonder which he found in his younger world. After the age of three or four, the environment changes much, teachings change, rules change, communications expand and life is never the same, because your child’s life has changed. The real self is lost forever in the world of influential surroundings and experiences. You may never know and understand your child again as you did when he was three, four, five and six years old, when you listened to him explain what his paintings mean to him. But hopefully his talents can be used to make a more beautiful world, and luckily for us all, a better world.