I had a kid today who said she was “a bad drawer”.
She was seven.
How can you be a bad anything at seven? You’ve hardly had time to blink.
The kid and I looked at paintings on my iPhone of Diebenkorn and Picasso and Georgia O’Keefe and I told her that great art doesn’t have to look realistic. Often the most interesting art is anything but.
“It’s about how you feel when you do it,” I told her. “Forget about the look of it.”
And quite honestly - she’s seven. No matter what she produces, it is unlikely going to be considered for MoMA. Though when I see an exhibition of a white box with a hole in it, or a “sculpture” of a vacuum cleaner or some other gadget, I do wonder why-the-hell-not?
I failed gym class when I was six because I couldn’t do a roly-poly. I clearly remember my mother storming around the kitchen muttering: “How can you fail a six year old!” (Comment not a question) "How ridiculous!" She then marched into school and hotly demanded that retrospectively I be awarded a pass.
For years I didn’t know why she had forced them to make me pass. In my world, I didn’t even know what a fail meant ...!
But I get it now. And when I see these brilliant and blossoming children become weighed down by limitations or lack of confidence.. or the ever lurking fear of failure.. – my fierce internal mama bear goes wild to protect them from the preconditioned programming of the adult world already influencing their own, malleable minds.
Because these kids are perfect: Drawing outside the lines, and creating indecipherable shapes, exploring colors that clash.
Just the way they are.