When they’re splashing red paint around the house, scrawling on the walls and snapping crayons in half, it’s pretty hard to see children as budding artists. However, it isn’t necessarily what they do so much as what they think that makes children so refreshing, and occasionally puzzling, to adults. You could say that a child is born as a blank canvas. Over time, their persistent (and admittedly exasperating) questions of “why?” start to paint a vibrant image of the world in their heads. Just as a writer researches before starting a novel, or a chef tastes different ingredients before commencing their signature dish, children constantly seek to expand their knowledge, before coming to a single conclusion about the chaos that we call life. Children tend to have an admirable imagination because they want to learn, they want to do everything, taste everything, go everywhere. For children, the world is full of art and things to be wondered at. This fresh and enthusiastic perspective is what makes every child an artist of sorts.
What I’ve always found fascinating (and very entertaining) about children is just how many dreams they have: they want to be a vet, a fireman, a hairdresser and a mermaid all at once. It seems the older you get, the more restricted your world has to become. From having five different dreams and life ideals, the adult mind slowly shrinks to about one dream – a more ‘realistic’ dream. The word ‘realistic’ can be such a cruel word because reality, at least our version of it, is quite frankly disappointing. To us, the word ‘reality’ sounds boring and pessimistic, but I think many of us have actually misinterpreted the word. Reality isn’t boring, it’s art in itself, and it is what spurs on our imagination. It’s not reality that restricts us, but society’s perception of reality: what we should know, what we should do. In theory the world seems black and white, but of course there are shades of grey. People with a good imagination can not only see the black, white and grey, but also the pinks and purples and blues of the world – the hidden colours which remind us that the world is far bigger than what we see.
Despite the pressure placed on us by society to abandon originality for practicality, I have to disagree with Picasso’s second statement: even if we are not all artists by vocation, every single one of us still has the potential to be. Furthermore, creativity is not something that can be so easily shaken off. Literally speaking, Picasso is right in that it is certainly not easy to retain your magical imaginative streak as you grow older. In the adult working world, imagination is not celebrated as much as it should be. Being an artist is a poor-paying job, even the famous Picasso once found himself penniless after rejecting traditional academia, and this is definitely not an uncommon story for many other artists. Society tries to mould us into practical working citizens used to fuel our economy rather than our individualism. This is a difficult situation to be caught up in, but even these types of expectations cannot quash our originality.
The best thing about art is that there are no rules and no limits. Moreover, it isn’t restricted to a canvas and a paintbrush; it can be produced from words, music and movement. It might not always pay our bills and we might not always have time to actively practice it, but we are all capable of appreciating and creating art; it’s something that we’re drawn to because we’re always searching for beauty and for something unique and expressive that we can empathise with. I remain convinced that everyone can make some form of masterpiece, regardless of age. Remaining an artist is not the problem, it’s just a matter of finding the chance and courage to showcase what you’re capable of.