On my local High Street there is an old building called Bridge Cottage. It's currently being renovated and is fenced off with high wooden hoardings.
"If those don't get graffittied, I'll eat my hat," I thought to myself (without committing to any hat in particular). I must have lived in London for too long because the pristine white boards didn't get graffitied at all. Instead, several large artworks by local schools were erected as part of a 'Walk Through Time' project.
"Well, alright then," I thought, "I bet those artworks get vandalised within days."
Again, I was wrong. The artworks were left alone and have survived relatively intact for several months.
My predictions were typical of many adults; cynical, negative, expecting the worst to happen. Tut tut Mr P!
Adult artists can be a bit like that too, about their own work. I count myself amongst them. It's easy to slip into a negative frame of mind and start worrying... I'm going to make a mistake. It's not going to be any good. Nobody will like it.
What I have learnt from children's art is that making art - the process - is just as important, if not more important, than what the art looks like when it's finished. The joy of making it shines through in what they have made, regardless of how well it's executed. In fact, the imperfect lines and edges of children's art is what makes it so vibrant and interesting. Children, at least young ones, either don't care what other people think of it, or assume that everyone will like it.
Unlike some adult artists, child artists are not afraid to use colour in their art. Bright, bold colours. Colours that make logical sense, such as the brown tree and green grass in the photo above. But also colours that do not make sense to adult eyes; people with blue faces, green dogs, purple trees and so on.
Unlike a lot of adult artists, most child artists want to show you their work. They bring it to you. They give it to you. They don't hide it away or get precious about their art like adults do. Children gift their art to other people, and then make more art.
Child artists are prolific and experimental. Compared to most adult artists, they make more art and do it quicker. Their marks are often bolder and more spontaneous. And the materials they enjoy using seem to be more diverse and a lot messier; they paint, smear, cut, stick, and mix things up.
How can children's art improve your art? Well, if you want to make more art, be confident using different colours and materials, have the courage to exhibit your art, and get more pleasure out of doing it... then do what child artists do:
Relax and enjoy making your art. Enjoy the marks you make, the movement in your body, and the calmness that comes from concentrating on doing one thing only. Don't worry about what it will look like when it's finished.
Use lots of colour. Put colours where you think colours should go, sure, but also put colours where you know they definitely shouldn't go! Just for fun. See what happens.
Share your art and give it away. Show it to loved ones, share it with friends, and gift it to others. Display your art on the fridge. Share it online. Don't obsess over likes and comments. If you enjoyed making the art and you enjoy looking at it, that's all that matters.
Make lots of art! The more you make, the less precious you become about each piece. Try making art quickly. Make an impression instead of a detailed drawing. Make bold marks instead of fine ones. Notice what happens to your art and how you feel about.
Experiment with different materials. If you mainly work in one medium, such as drawing with pencils, try painting or sculpting or collaging or any other medium you can think of. You never know, you might be a genius at making mosaics with sim cards!
Richard Pettitt, cartoonist.