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Like a Child

Portrait of a Young Girl, Pablo Picasso

I recently came across a quote by Picasso, one which he recited nearing the end of his life and therefore art career. This quote read, “It took me four years to paint like Raphael, but a lifetime to paint like a child.” Why in the WORLD would you want to paint like a child over Raphael?! was my first thought. Instantly, I had a flashback to a week before when I had walked into a donut shop and witnessed a four-year-old child aggressively scribbling one crayon after the next onto a piece of printer paper. While I waited to order, I looked down from where I stood, thinking about how a unicorn could have very perfectly walked in five minutes prior, thrown up on the piece of paper, and left because frankly, I wouldn’t have been able to tell the difference. No, that can’t be what Picasso is trying to get at.

The quote continued to linger in my mind for a while as I tried to comprehend it. This is when I began recalling all of the times I used to make my way to the very back of my painting classroom despite being the first one to arrive. I did this because I wanted to express myself in ways that I felt most resonated with me which was a more surrealistic style as opposed to the rest of my classmates who preferred to follow the more traditional way of painting. In those moments, I was conscious of the fact that I was breaking barriers and that my pieces were far more out there and daring. And while I felt really proud of them myself, I grew insecure at the idea of revealing them worried that my class would not love them as much as I did.

This was until one day at the start of class when I was setting up my canvas onto an easel, preparing to make adjustments to it. As I did, this girl made her way to the back of the class to wash her hands at the sink that was located right behind me. As the water ran, I could feel her glancing at my painting, and soon after, a shade of pink warming up my cheeks. I chose to ignore it until her scream caused me to crawl out of my skin. “WOW! That’s so clever!” she said. Of course, in a way that was loud enough for the rest of the class to hear and begin to make their way away from their easels to look at what sat on mine.

It was then I noticed that people admired my style. Some stared at it with full concentration, as if they were in the middle of attempting to solve a sudoku. Others asked me to walk them through my thought process for the piece. This is the moment I realized how pointless it had been for me to be ashamed of my authenticity as an artist. I realized that what I should have done all along was embrace my out-of-the-box ideas and follow my natural thought process with no shame much as a child would. The fact that I hadn’t had only worked to limit the potential of my pieces. Like that four-year-old girl at the donut shop, I should indulge myself in my art and get so lost in my creative juices that I don’t even notice anybody watching. I should be unapologetically myself even if not everyone agrees with my choices.

Now that I have figured this out I believe that I have already begun developing a strong comprehension of what it means to be an artist. In other words, I have witnessed what Picasso valued throughout his art career. This is that yes, pretty much anyone can learn how to draw something with the proper proportions and overall technique. But not everyone is daring enough to express their creativity as they deep inside wish to do so without any filters similar to a child. Truthfully, you want to approach art like a child because that is the originality that develops interesting paintings—those ones that cause people to stare for hours, trying to wrap their heads around it. The ones that will leave them mind blown, offering a new and fresh perspective of the world.

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