Monday, June 20, 2011

Kathan's drawings. Are they art?

When I watch my two-year-old grandson Kathan drawing (he calls it "colors"), it's obvious something is going on in his head. He's total concentration. What he's thinking, I have no idea. I suppose he's discovering as he draws--he's one with the drawing. There' no separation between him and the act of drawing and the drawing itself; it's all of one process. It's as William Butler Yeats says in "Among School Children":

             O body swayed to music, O brightening glance,
             How can we know the dancer from the dance?

I'm sure Kathan's not working from a planned design. I don't think he thinks of what he's doing as art. I think he's fascinated by desgn, shape, color, and relationships without thinking about those concepts. He has no such words in his vocabulary. They are just automatically within his range of understanding.

To an adult, it may look like scribbling. I don't think I could scribble as well as Kathan 'scribbles,' if that's what it is. When I scribble, I'm aware that I'm scribbling, and I try to make it beautiful, graceful, colorful, and I may succeed. Or, I may not. Kathan succeeds every time.

I've heard it said that children are natural born artists, and we adults kill that natural talent. It takes a special adult to let a natural artist work. We want to implant our notions of art into them. We want them to do it our way. Maybe we should be doing it their way.


Elizabeth Varadan aka Mrs. Seraphina said...

These are beautiful drawings. Most small children do have an innate sense of what makes a pleasing composition. Then we lose it for a variety of reasons, and I don't think adults are always to blame so much as lack of opportunity to develop techniques. If you read Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain, at around eleven or so, kids start wanting to make things look realistic. But, without some guidance and learning about perspective and line, etc., when their cars don't come out looking like cars, their trees not like trees, they "decide" they can't draw and give up. If they learn the techniques, then they have the competence with which to break the rules and go back to their innate sense of composition, and they have the confidence too, because they know they can make a drawing look anyway they want it to -- including abstract.

Richard said...

Thank you for your explanation. It makes perfect sense. Part of 'losing' the natural artistic ability is an innate part of growing up, and education can help bring it back. That's good to know.