Children and Observation

“It took me four years to paint like Raphael, but a lifetime to paint like a child.” Pablo Picasso

Artists have much to learn from children.

My partner Chontele become an auntie a bit under two months ago. Her brother and his partner had a little boy.

We helped babysit him the other weekend. He just hit that age where he starts really taking in the world around him. The crying is slowly being replaced with silent curiosity. His eyes bounce around the room looking for interesting shapes, colors, and patterns to lock onto. Ceiling fans are the current favorite.

I find it interesting that he’s already seeing the world as an artist. I’ve been training for years to see the world like this, and he does it without knowing!

As he grows up, his acute awareness and curiosity will be replaced with familiarity. He will no longer see a room full of strange shapes, colors, and patterns; he will see people, the living room table, chairs, flowers, pets, things. The world will start to make sense. It happens to all of us.

Part of being an artist means getting back in touch with how we once saw the world as a child. We need to see with a child’s awareness and curiosity. It sounds easy, but it’s not. It takes practice to see the world without judgement and bias.

The good news is, it’s something you can practice without a brush in hand. Just look around. Be aware of your surroundings. Be curious and ask questions. Look for interesting shapes, colors, and patterns. You’ll never lack painting inspiration when you see the world like this.

Happy painting!

Dan Scott