Artist Pablo Picasso is quoted often as saying, "Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once we grow up." It's so true. Ask any child if he or a she is an artist, and more often than not they boldly proclaim, "YES!" without a second of hesitation.
At the end of 2016 when Holy Family HTX commissioned me to create 9 liturgical year 6' x 6' paintings, I began research and planning for the work. One of the many things I wrote included, "For the Christmas painting, invite a child to join you in the process--the theme demands it."
So come early fall, I honored this inner nudging and waited for a child before starting the piece.
That's where one of my young friends comes in! He joined his mother during a private workshop I hosted in the studio and was absolutely taken . . . When I told him that one canvas was especially for Christmas, I saw starlight twinkle in his eyes. That's when I knew it was time to begin this painting. So I handed him a brush, and his art became the first to mark the canvas.
"Ok, buddy, I want you to paint the first thing that comes to mind when you think of Christmas and Jesus coming into the world." I said.
He joyfully painted a heart and wrote his name next to it. I couldn't wait to join him and be inspired by his work. I knew then it was the right decision to co-create this painting with him and other little artist friends. Over the process of a couple of months, I invited two other children to add their painting, drawings and general artistry upon the canvas and join me in the process.
Here are my takeaways for our time together co-creating this piece:
1. Do not fear. Take risks, be vulnerable and true to yourself. Trust your first response to the materials before you and the space you have to work with. Remember there are really no mistakes in art.
2. Have FUN, don't overthink the process. It's ok to loose control.
3. The way the children moved the brush and marked the canvas inspired me to move differently, as well. A few of their brush strokes seem to have found their way into my making vocabulary. While working on my current painting for Epiphany, I notice myself using some of the some of the brushstrokes and mark making techniques the child artists intuitively did with freedom, confidence and ease,
I'm grateful for the markings, letters, brushstrokes, and joyful creative energy of Cobe, Owen and Hazel who all confidently added to the work throughout different stages of the process. I have a feeling that will not be my last collaborative painting with little artist hands.
"Keep me away from the wisdom which does not cry, the philosophy which does not laugh and the greatness which does not bow before children."
Written by Lanecia Rouse Tinsley.
Edited by Ciona Rouse.
Photographs by Lanecia Rouse Tinsley + Brittney H.
Lanecia A. Rouse Tinsley