Saturday, February 13, 2010

Art should be messy

Creation should come from destruction, from randomness, from the unknown.

So many rules to follow in daily life lead to frustration and depression. Stay inside the lines. Stop at the stop signs. Don’t hit others. Keep your room clean. Don’t play with your food.

One of the best possible memories of creating, of art in my early years, comes from being completely and unabashedly messy. It is still enough of an impression upon my subconscious that I’m a messy and disorganized adult now.

Having an ‘art shirt’. The old, over-sized button down shirt of some adult in my life that was used as an art smock, so as not to get my other clothes dirty or stained. Over time this smock shirt would end up with stains and smears, splatters and streaks in all colors of the rainbow.

My grandfather passed away nearly a decade ago now, and I adopted several of his work shirts when my grandmother was cleaning out his closet. Sturdy cloth, strong stitching, meant to handle grease or dirt and still be fine. They have his name stitched above the pocket and a hole in the pocket flap for a pen to reside. They’re slightly baggy on me, which is fine for layering over tank tops or sweaters. But these are my art smocks now. The familiar pride in wearing his shirt feels comforting. The random streaks of paint across the front and arms from where I routinely wipe paintbrushes makes it mine.

If you’re sitting down to paint with your kids, know that they’re going to be kids. They’re going to be messy and draw outside the lines and mix colors just because they can. Let them enjoy that freedom of creating art in their own way. Pull out an old button down shirt that they can use as their own art smock, something that they can get messy in and not worry about the consequences. Get one for yourself. See how good it feels to ignore just a few rules sometimes.


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