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The freedom to create

Every Child Is an Artist. The Problem Is How to Remain an Artist Once He or She Grows Up

Pablo Picasso

This post begins sad, but please keep on reading. It is not too long, and it is an optimistic one.

In my childhood, I loved everything that was connected to paper: I was painting, writing, cutting, pasting, playing, and that’s how I earned the miserable designation: "paper obsessed". I often hear a similar story from friends. I have to pause for a second. I can't find the words. What a mistake to criticise a child in this way.

How does a child react to such a thing? Usually with shame, self-doubt,denial. And if he or she does not find substitutes that frees them from that, they will get detached from their own creative self. That’s a shame.

Imagine that instead that we had been encouraged, supported and maybe even directed to a sustainable creativity. Wow.

I do not blame my parents. They loved me and wanted the best for me, but they were not aware of the implications these words had on me. And that is exactly why I am writing about it. To raise awareness.

Whether you are a parent or an educator, or just an adult who sees a child at his or her creative act. Do not criticize. Do not teach. Do not judge, and you know what? Do not admire the results either, because if you would, the child may try to please you later by making something alike that will suit your taste, so you will be impressed again. In this way the child will be detached from his or her own creativity forces and move to something out of them – you.

I suggest a little change in Picasso's quote. Instead of: Every Child Is an Artist. The Problem Is How to Remain an Artist Once He or She Grows Up - Every Child Is an Artist. The question Is How to Remain an Artist Once He or She Grows Up. Not a problem, but a question, because it is possible!

So what to do? First – enable. Then be impressed by the path, of the process, of the creativity. Acknowledge the devotion, the persistence, the doing.

I said this post will end up with optimism. Here it comes.

Not only is it possible to do right by children, assuring they will keep their own inherent creative forces, it is possible to rehabilitate those lost forces in adults. Even more than that. It seems that it is possible to create those forces out of nothing. The only thing that is needed is will.

Then – opportunity and support. That’s how a sense of freedom can be developed, and freedom is the heart of creativity.


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