The Metropolitan Museum of Art is currently having their annual P.S. Art exhibition, which is a juried show featuring the artistic achievements of artists in New York City public schools. Although their show closes soon, I thought to write a post about two young and achieving artists in my household: Griffin and Elliot.
Being the stay-at-home dad these days, I often put out colored pencils, crayons, and paint for them to work with. This is hardly something that I feel the need to instill. They ask me, almost on a daily basis if they can do some new work.
Griffin definitely has a penchant for abstract expressionism. A while back, he did this great triptych that we framed and hung in the hallway:
They're acrylic on paper, and in the center one he splattered on it with his milk bottle to create the white areas.
The boys love painting outside too. It's amazing, as someone who often paints by toning down my full-strength colors with earth tones, to see them paint with such vibrant colors.
Elliot loves painting. He gets really into it (no pun intended)! But being almost two years younger than Griffin, he still doesn't quite understand the concept of painting on the paper.
I think sometimes he may confuse paint for food, but he wouldn't be the first in history. It has been theorized that Vincent van Gogh often ate yellow paint. Good thing they make non-toxic paint for kids!
Besides enjoying painting Plein Air, and getting really into their work, the boys seem to love working in the nude. You couldn't imagine how many times a day I have to tell them to get their clothes back on. Their always dressed in their birthday suit, with or without chocolate cake and candles.
Some things I think about, as an artist who has budding kid artists, is what my role is in terms of art education. Several things cross my mind. For example, if the boys start asking me to teach them how to paint this, or draw that, of course I want to show them. But is something lost in the process of learning art?
In what way does our innate knowledge of who we are and how we express ourselves get lost or even oppressed by the inculcation of art lessons, do's and don'ts, rights and wrongs?
Picasso once said, "Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once he grows up."
Sometimes I look at how my children think, and how they express themselves, and I truly wonder what I can learn from them, more so them from me.
Their work really astounds me. Why not put this painting next to a Joan Mitchell or a DeKooning? I know its not the same thing as when an adult artist adopts or re-adopts the visual language of children, in smearing paint or scribbling. But it's still amazing. Maybe more so, in a way that those artists could never completely recapture.