Smocks Optional Folks

When I was a little girl my Mom had a beautiful friend that reminded me of Pocahontas.  She was by far the coolest person in our small beach town & I fancied myself special to her. We had (at least in my mind)  an unspoken understanding that if I were to ever really run away I would obviously end up at her house. 

Melanie was an artist - she was the only Mom I knew who liked to draw. She encouraged me to be creative by showing me her drawings & buying me art supplies for my birthday. Although she moved & I never saw her again, Melanie left her mark. She showed me that there actually were grown ups out there who enjoyed making art... Which meant ~ I never had to stop.   

All children are artists. The problem, as stated by Picasso himself, is ‘how to remain an artist once we grow up’. Children ENJOY making Art - anything from painting by an easel, to chalk on the sidewalk... to noodles on a string! Small children use their ENTIRE bodies to scribble with ferocious energy & uninterrupted imagination. So why do some abandon the paintbrush while others refuse to let go - is it recognition, frustration, encouragement, permission, role models, talent….or simply preference? And what happens to all that creative energy once it's cut off?   

Around the age of 9 a child’s focus shifts & they attempt to create art that meets 'adult standards'. Gone are the days of splashing color whimsically to create elaborate undeniable fantasy scenes.  Attention to detail, perspective & technique now distract them from free expression because self awareness, comparison & judgement kick in. The creative process, for Art’s sake, takes a back seat ....while the self portraits of the ‘talented’ hang in school hallways for all to ID.   

Adults often admit to me that they just don’t know HOW TO START making art….even though they think  they want to. I assure them that years ago they too actually ENJOYED being creative, purely for play! I ask them to try & remember a time when they would spontaneously dive into a watercolor palette like a pool on a hot day, without hesitation or thought.  At this point their head usually tilts up slightly while they gaze off into the distance for a few seconds.  I patiently wait for eye contact to resume & then say  ...'Ok so remember that feeling? that's how you start.' Best part, smocks are now optional folks.