When I was a little girl, my Mom had a beautiful friend with gorgeous long brown hair that always reminded me of Pocahontas.  She was by far the coolest person in our small beach town & I fancied myself special to her. We had (at least in my mind) an unspoken understanding that if I were to ever really run away, I would obviously escape to her house.

Melanie was an artist. I was impressed by her talent and admired her courage to stand out. She was the only Mom I ever met who liked to draw. Melanie encouraged me to be creative by showing me her drawings & buying me art supplies for my birthday. At some point, Melanie moved to a different town & although I never saw her again, she certainly left her mark. Melanie showed me that there actually were grown-ups out there who continued being creative... Which meant ~ I never had to stop.

All children are artists. The problem, as stated by Picasso himself, is ‘how to remain an artist once we grow up’. Children ENJOY making Art - anything from paint by an easel to chalk on the sidewalk... to noodles on a string. Small children will use their ENTIRE bodies to scribble with ferocious energy & uninterrupted imagination. So why do some abandon the paintbrush while others refuse to let go - is it recognition, frustration, encouragement, permission, role models, talent….or simply preference? And what happens to all that creative energy once it's cut off?

Around the age of 9 a child’s focus shifts & they attempt to create art that meets 'adult standards'. Gone are the days of splashing color whimsically to create elaborate undeniable fantasy scenes.  Attention to detail, perspective & technique now distract them from free expression because self-awareness, comparison & judgment kick in. The creative process, for Art’s sake, takes a back seat ....while the self-portraits of the ‘talented’ hang in school hallways for all to ID.

Adults often admit to me that they just don’t know HOW TO START ….even though they think they want to. I assure them that years ago they ENJOYED being creative purely for play! I ask them to try & remember a time when they would spontaneously dive into a watercolor palette like you would jump into a pool on a hot day - without hesitation... for the thrill of it! At that point, their head usually tilts up slightly while they gaze off into the distance for a few seconds.  I patiently wait for eye contact to resume & then say  ...'Ok so remember that feeling? that's how you start.  The best part ....its now smock optional. 

SMOCK optional