Last week I wrote about how becoming a mother has had a very positive impact on my creative life. This week, I'm going to focus on watching my daughter's artistic skills unfold. Being around Estelle (age 5) and her friends, I'm constantly blown away by their unfettered spontaneity and unconstrained imagination. Whether it is play, song, art, dance, dressing up or storytelling, they have no boundaries. They feel no need to stick to a niche and develop a speciality. Rather, they switch constantly between mediums and bring in different elements as soon as it occurs to them. Their breathtaking flexibility and utter fearlessness is truly inspirational. When I teach workshops, I see that one of the biggest barriers a person can face in getting started on a piece of artwork is their fear of making a mistake or doing it wrong. Sadly, so often a person can track this back to negative feedback they got at from their parents or at school. The young children I spend time with are unquestioning in their creativity, and have a guileless confidence. I hope Estelle can maintain this for as long as possible. Here is a thank you card designed by Estelle with a 'Butterfly Flower' - perfectly illustrating this refusal to be categorised!
Estelle will return to a theme again and again. You can see here improvements over time in illustrating a princess, although she has followed a similar formula in each drawing. Nursery staff report that the children often use the same formula for many of their drawings - passing it on to the next child, who interprets it slightly differently.
The caterpillar drawing is the first Estelle made which looked recognisably like the subject she was trying to depict. The preying mantis is one she drew age 4 and a half after seeing one in a photo - I remember being very excited at how accurately she drew the angle of its legs! Most recently, she drew this reindeer at Christmas, just before her 5th birthday - her ability to depict subjects realistically are developing all the time.
I'm a great believer in enabling a person to follow their own creative path. Provide a person with equipment and advice on how to use it, encourage their ideas - and everyone is capable of creating their own piece of art. Whenever I run printmaking workshops, it never ceases to amaze me the incredible range of ideas which the participants come up with - no two linocuts are ever the same. I often do art activities with Estelle and her friends and they all have their own individual ideas. Just look at this simple crocodile hand puppet and how differently Estelle and her two friends decorated them!
I hope you've enjoyed this insight into a child's creative development- and I hope you get as much pleasure as I do from the works of art produced by the children in your life.