Monday, December 29, 2008

There is a famous quote from Picasso that goes something like this, "When I was young I could draw like Raphael but it has taken me a lifetime to draw like a child." That sounds good, everyone finds children's drawings very charming. But on reflection is drawing like a child a desirable thing? Is he referring to the innocence or the ignorance of the young artist? He seems to be favoring ignorance, rejecting the knowledge and skills of Raphael. But do children really draw that way? Ask any child about the scribble they drew and they will tell you exactly what it is. "It's daddy" or "It's a princess in a castle" or "It's Fido playing with a ball." I've never heard a child say "I don't know, I was just expressing my feelings." They are drawing with all the knowledge they have and rather than avoiding or shunning knowledge they gather it in at a rapid rate and apply it to their drawings. Before long the princess has a face with a nose and eyes, and Fido has four legs. Knowledge doesn't bind an artist, it frees him. By this line of reasoning Raphael drew the way a child draws. He used all his knowledge to express what he wanted to say. A child is satisfied to draw a line to indicate a nose but Raphael wanted to express the character and dimension of the nose he drew. As the things you want to express in your drawings become more sophisticated your knowledge must increase to convey those ideas. Perhaps Picasso just wanted to return to the innocence of childhood, but is that such an enviable thing? There is an interesting passage in the bible that addresses this, "When I was a child I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child, but when I became a man I put away childish things." Let's try Picasso's quote another way. Imagine a poet who says "When I was young I could write like Keats, but it has taken me a lifetime to write like a child" or a musician who says "When I was young I could play like Heifetz, but it has taken me a lifetime to play like a child".....

1 comment:

Walter Lynn Mosley said...

Congratulations. Very nice!