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In art, “impressionist” is a word first used by M. Louis Leroy, in his attempt as an art critic, to describe a painting named, “Sunrise”, which Monet painted in 1872. It is a beautiful painting, and important because it was the painting that began the “impressionist” era. Others, like Renoir and Degas, joined Monet in this movement, to break away from the style of the day. The style was new and different, and therefore, original. Originality in a creation is the element that can make a painter’s efforts a work of art. When that element is developed and the technique honed and mastered, it can become a style of painting which can make an artist of a painter. Monet, of course, was already an artist when he broke away from tradition, thus causing his impressionistic paintings more easily accepted.
In today’s time it seems that it would be impossible for anyone to do something different……something with which no one has ever experimented before. It would seem that after centuries of time, everything has been tried. But think of the field of technology (which cannot be separated distantly from art), and how it changes on every level imaginable, sometimes in only a few weeks, creating something new, different and original. The same is true with painting a picture.
If a child is allowed to use paint in his/her own playful (sometimes messy!) way, eventually a technique or form of self-expression will develop. Although my Grandson, Branson Smith, (9 years old) is developing a style of his own, doing still-life paintings, landscapes, and even carefully planned compositions in abstract forms, I sometimes encourage him to use his left-over paint to simply play around with it, having fun dabbling, shoving it around on the format and talking about complimentary and contrasting colors, lines, shapes and spaces just to have fun without the thought of actually making a nice product. Sometimes, something interesting, colorful, lovely ………and original happens.
Art instructors, teachers and parents need to be aware that such originality is a main ingredient in art. My belief is that originality in the art of a child is the stuff that can (and often has) make a difference in our lives and the way we live them.