Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once he grows up
- Pablo Picasso
With Easter coming, I wanted the Little Mister to enjoy getting into the spirit of it – a year makes a big difference in his understanding. I also thought it would be nice to let him get creative and make gifts for his loved ones. I could teach him about the Easter Bunny (not entirely sure he understands the whole concept but I do know he loves the idea of a day of chocolate and eating the cross off the top of hot cross buns and leaving the rest of the bun intact). I could teach him about giving and quality family time to look forward to (Easter just may be my favourite ‘family’ holiday period of the year – with Christmas coming close to it).
We headed to our local ‘go to’ store for craft supplies and found some goodies in the makeshift Easter themed aisle. I didn’t feel we were ready for anything too complicated, but I was thrilled when I found an egg painting kit, which came complete with fake eggs (made of styrofoam or something quite like it – sorry environment!), which made me really happy because last year I had tried to decorate real eggs and instantly became the Pinterest Fail Queen. Well, I was never awarded the crown officially, but we all know I was worthy. I earned that title fair and square.
We also found an A3 sized pad of sketch paper designed specifically for toddlers to paint on (I honestly don’t know how it differs from normal paper that non toddlers paint on but the cover description sucked me in and it didn’t cost too much). Some new paintbrushes and a new art smock later (don’t ask what happened to the last one – seriously) and we were very excited little bunnies. I also even found some Easter themed stickers and some special handheld foam toddler paint stamps! I really loved sharing the experience with the Little Mister of gathering all of the supplies. We’d talked about it on the way into town, I explained what we were doing as we chose everything in the store and he really seemed excited.
I had originally planned for us to create some art together after the Little Mister’s lunch time nap, as I thought we would get home a little late in the morning to truly absorb ourselves in the activity, but the excitement took ahold of us and I set him up with everything almost straight away. Little bowls (old plastic ones we’d removed from the camper van to be gotten rid of) of all the different coloured paints, some paper, the stamps and brushes.
We were going to make paintings for the Little Mister’s grandparents and great grandparents for Easter. I had been inspired because my mother in law had tried to keep an old envelope the Little Mister had scrawled on at her birthday breakfast a few days earlier. I realised she had nothing he’d created to show off or display on her fridge. It was lovely that she wanted something and I felt like a little scrap of envelope with biro scrawls (while sweet) didn’t quite cut it. I wanted her to have something made especially for her. So the idea evolved.
I watched the Little Mister sitting there ever so seriously (while full of joy his face was one of concentration and creativity). It was frickin’ cute, actually. He embraced the project with enthusiasm and didn’t once question whether he was going to do it right or wrong. He never stopped and thought about whether someone else might not like it or might make fun of it. He was busy making art. He was feeling it. I can’t remember a time as an adult or even as a slightly older child where I truly felt like that (other than when I’m writing but even then I do get self conscious or feel the need to censor myself slightly more than necessary). I’m sure I was just like the Little Mister once, but I cannot actually remember it. I’ve spent much of my young life anxious about whether someone would like what I did or not. When I felt unsure at school or doing my homework, I was almost paralysed with worry until I saw someone else get started and then realised maybe I could give it a go too. Always scared of failing or making a mistake. Of sticking my neck out first and being vulnerable with all my flaws on display!
As I watched the Little Mister at work, I saw how the colours mixed and the swirl of the paintbrush. I was inspired. The Little Mister has retaught me the art of…art. I really was reminded of the spirit of creating. Of not worrying what people think – just making something from the heart for somebody else who loves us and would never judge. Or even just for ourselves.
Between then and Easter, the Little Mister painted his eggs and stuck beautiful stickers on his gift projects. He mixed several colours at once until some of his work was a brown sludge. He made stamp impressions of Easter bunnies and eggs, then painted right over them with the brush until you couldn’t see them anymore. It didn’t matter. He was proud of his work and so was I.
I got caught up in the moment and totally forgot the part of my brain which wants to tell him what to do and how to do it so that the art work comes out looking perfectly colourful or effective. What is the right way to create art anyway? Who would I be to tell him he’s not doing it right or could do it better (it’s not about me but about him)? I do not want to be the first person who makes him hesitate when it comes to his creative endeavours. There’s plenty of time for him to be graded and assessed, criticised or taught ‘correct’ ‘techniques’. Right now it’s all about him learning the basics and exploring the possibilities.
Needless to say, his loved ones thoroughly enjoyed his gifts and he was so excited to give them.
What would you do if you were fearless again? x