A friend asked me about art opportunities for her son (who spent his morning making masks)… and I said:
There are some venues around here that offer art opportunities. We can talk about them sometime. But I want to say that while it is grand to get kids together to make art, I think it’s more important to make sure that the creative creature that lives inside of each of us has a chance. Parents are the best incubators for that creative creature.
I think that the critical thing is to encourage constant experimentation… making art is experimentation – pure, wonderful, exasperating, beautiful experimentation – it’s giving in to the urge to “what if…” something, to take a bit of this and a bit of that and put them together to make a new thing. It doesn’t have to be limited to traditional art activities – building a snow fort or baking a pie or making some contraption can be experimental – and if it is, you’re feeding the creative creature.
The most important thing for raising a child (or an adult) to live an art-filled life – to be blessed with the indescribable lightness of being that art generates – is to be willing to totally wreck havoc in the name of experimentation, to be willing to put the journey and the finding out ahead of things like order and propriety and everything else that shuts down the creative mind, that forces us to be those cogs in the machine.
I was very lucky as a child – my parents did not have much, but they let us play with almost everything they had. The contraptions we made were applauded and treasured – even when they had to be scraped off the sidewalk, or painted over, or dismantled so that dinner could be put on the table, or, or, or…
I was “sewing” before I started school, “building” before I was out of grade school… I learned how to use tools, how to make stuff from bits of this and that, how to fix things, how to “see” what might be, how to be fearless in my experimentation – to know “I can do that…” whatever “that” was.
And all because I was taught that the creative creature was important, that it was the most important part of me – the part that made me alive – the creative creature was me. Life was all about the making and thinking and looking and finding… All those doings done, all those thoughts thought, they stayed with me throughout my life. Even in the times when I was too afraid to make art, when life demanded too much of me to be able to spare the energy, I still was art-filled.
And one day I came back to it.
So, would I like to make my living making art? Hell yes. I’d love to… and I am really stubborn, so maybe it will happen.
But it’s ever so much more important to just be making the art.