Art through the eyes of a 5 year old – Another lesson from my creativity mentor

I’ve long been fascinated by the artwork of young kids.  I often say to people “I wish I could draw like a 5 year old” and get odd looks, usually followed by some puzzled reassurance that “of course you can!”

But seriously I can’t.  I find there is something magical, whimsical and intensely creative about the art of kids of this age that is very difficult to reproduce with an adult eye.  At age 5 one has not yet learnt of perspective, nor of proportions.  At age 5 one has not yet learnt how to do art ‘right’.  At age 5 drawing is a pleasure that is without consequence socially or academically – one can simply indulge in splurging one’s minds eye onto paper.

It is not that I believe that we should all draw like young children, or that kids art is better than adults – I am simply interested in what childlike qualities we might be able to re-learn which, coupled with our adult sensibilities, can make us far more imaginative and creative creatures in our work and our lives in general.

However, like many creative skills we wish to develop as adults it seems it is as much about unlearning as it is about learning.  It is also about recovering choice and being aware enough to ask ourselves of any situation whether it is more helpful to conform with our learnt norms or to challenge convention?

I consulted my creativity mentor on this subject and asked her to teach me how to draw like a 5 year old.  She once again inspired me with her wisdom as she taught me, step by step, how to draw a tiger in her own style.

Like any good teacher, her lessons remain consistently straightforward:

• Be obvious and keep it simple

• Draw first, think later

• Embrace mistakes as the emergence of novelty (e.g. the ears)

• Having fun is the most important thing

One lovely side effect of asking Maya to help me with these blogs is that she has really stepped into the role of being a teacher, adopting a higher status than me and critiquing my work – a wonderful example of ‘flipping the reality‘ of what is normal.

I didn’t catch the following exchange on camera unfortunately:

Daddy: “How many legs has a tiger got?”

Maya: “Four

Daddy: “And how many does your picture have?”

Maya: “Er – 1,2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7..8!

Daddy: “A tiger only has 4 legs but your picture has 8

Maya: “Daddy, do you want to learn to draw like me or not?!”