“Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once he grows up.”― Pablo Picasso
Do you allow yourself to be playful? We often think it is unbecoming and childish for adults to be playful, yet I believe there is a little child that lives within our hearts who would love to come out and play. As we grow up we don’t discard the child we once were; it is incorporated into our heart and soul. When people want to explore art with me or when they tell me that they feel blocked and can’t do art I like to recommend that they start playing with art materials and ideas. There is no need to become critical. The result is not what counts at this point but the journey into the child and the connection is what helps loosen us up and free us. There are many ways to do this.
One way: We can access this playful child by taking some time to remember…. remember what?
In order to remember when you were younger you need to take time to cast your mind back …. find a good time when you won’t be disturbed by family and turn your phone onto aeroplane mode…. sit in your most comfortable place and position … keep a note book handy … some people like to have a photo of themselves as a child. … slowly become aware of your breathing… there is no hurry… or rush…. slowly think about when you were in your twenties … then when you were fifteen… then when you were twelve… then nine… then six. Can you picture yourself as a child at that age? How far back can you remember yourself? Think about what you enjoyed doing? What were your favorite colours? What were your favorite games? Who did you enjoy playing with. Good and bad memories may surface or inform you but I believe that you can just start with the happy or good memories. They will take you where you need to go. You can try writing about them or drawing about them. Overtime this can help you connect with your playful artist.
Believe it or not, I didn’t like art class at school. I thought it was silly being told what to draw or paint. I already had an independent nature and knew what I wanted to do. Can you remember the colours you enjoyed as a child, or sounds you heard from musical instruments, or plays and dances that captivated you or songs you enjoyed singing? I remember the colours I used as a child and they are the same colours I enjoy now. But at one point in my life I was told by an art teacher not to use bright contrasting colours and at another point I was heavily influenced by the book “Color Me Beautiful” by Carole Jackson and I became convinced that I could only use the colours that supposedly suited my complexion. This was incredibly limiting. As you know as we move through life we can pick up “rules” that are not really helpful and that limit us. What rules have you acquired that are no longer helpful to you; that are actually constricting the “air” out of your creative lungs?
Second way: Sometimes playing children’s games can help you access your playful child.
There was a drawing game we liked to play as children and I use it in my workshops sometimes. Maybe you remember doing it. You need three people: each has a blank piece of paper
- 1) you fold your paper so that it divides into three portions, like when you are folding a letter.
- 2) Think of a character (a person or animal) and draw just the head and neck in the top portion and fold it back so that it is hidden with just the tips of the neck showing.
- Then 3) pass your drawing onto the person on your left and now in the middle portion of the next sheet of paper you carry on drawing your character, from the neck-line showing you draw the body or torso.
- 4) After you are finished you pass onto the left person again and finish by drawing the legs or bottom part of your creature on the past sheet of paper.
- 5) Once you open it up you will see something created communally that looks like this:
My playful image: The Sun-Princess
A third way: Sometimes when you observe children at play this can ignite the child within you if you allow it.
For my playful drawing I considered how my inner child had been restricted over time and then I remembered how I went on caravan holidays with my cousins and swam in the warm Indian Ocean. We would pretend we were mermaids riding our seahorses; they were actually just lilos. We had hours of fun. These were some of my happiest childhood memories. As I remembered this my mind gave way to my inner child and sensed my playful child wishing that I was actually a mermaid. In my further reflection and mullings I remembered the above mentioned drawing game and I linked it with the exercise: What is in a name? (which I posted this week) and had done with my spiritual mentor. From these two ideas using elements of my name and my memories I created my mythical creature, The Sun-Princess.
This poem has been edited for this blog and first appeared as prose on an abandoned blog site of mine Journal Extracts .
The Sun-Princess I am a curious cat with night vision and whiskers all sensory for the dark helping me on the journey I travel. I am content, dignified and sensual and I wear my jaunty crown upon my head. My butterfly wings signify transformation and freedom; transmuting pupa to butterfly. There is a time to bleed and a time to need. Emotions merging like water colours, Wings carry me in flight to places without traces, like vanishings: once hidden, once appearing at will. My mermaid’s tail, propels me forward, upward, downward, this way and that to explore the darkest depths. It's ever glinting shielding scales flicker and dazzle in sheer delight. My crown, my cat's eyes and whiskers; my butterfly wings and mermaid's tail: playfully signify my internal nature. I am curious and gleeful, willing to fly and merge with the air; willing to swim in the dark and dare.
“Painting is just another way of keeping a diary.”― Pablo Picasso
I think of my art as being autobiographical and a form of keeping a diary or a journal, like Pablo Picasso. I hope that this explanation gives you an inkling of how I used my ideas and experiences to inspire my art; or you can also think that I use my art to express my ideas. I would be delighted if you give this exercise a try. You could let your artistic inner child go wild and try a few things and see what happens or it could be used for your children during this pandemic who are stuck indoors. Let me know how you connect with your playfulness or child within.
Until next time, take care.