My five-year-old son loves to draw, especially anything to do with Star Wars. I enjoy looking at his take on how some of the characters and starships look. The renderings may not be photorealistic or capture every aspect, but they are bold, personal, and thought-provoking.
I often run kids' comics-making workshops at schools and libraries in the greater Washington, D.C., area, and my favorite part of the class is seeing how children tackle making comics. Kids ? especially younger ones ? are aware of comics, but they often aren't aware of the parameters or the traditional structures of making comics.
For example, most comics include square panels, speech bubbles, and read from left to right, top to bottom. That's just the way they've been made historically and the way most people think they should approach creating and reading comics.
But kids in general don't know that or don't care. When they make a comic, they approach it from a personal perspective. Sometimes they'll use circles or triangles instead of squares for panels ? if they use panels at all. Or the dialogue will appear in free-floating text on a page instead of being wedged into a bubble or box. Sometimes the perspective will be completely off, but, strangely, it will work perfectly for the story.
When I look at these renderings, I think of artist Pablo Piscasso's famous quote: "Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once we grow up."
I didn't fully appreciate the premise behind that quote until I began to see how children make comics and art. There's a wonderful rawness, openness, and honesty to the way kids approach the world. Somewhere along the line, they are indoctrinated with the idea that standardization is best; in terms of comics: panels are square, dialogue appears in bubbles, and you follow a certain order.
As adults, artists often become aware of such conformity, whether in comics or other art. But even when they try to break free of those rules, it's not the same. Often when artists try to draw with the simplicity or directness of a child, it's to convey some principle or idea. Kids don't draw that way; they draw how they see things directly and typically don't dabble in symbolism. It is what it is.
There's another reason adult artists can't truly capture the essence of drawing like a child: It's impossible to regain innocence once you've lost it. For adults, there's too much water under the bridge to completely let go.
There is one way, though, that you can appreciate the charismatic energy of drawing like a child ? find comics and art made by a child. The next time you find yourself in a school or library that has posted art by children, take a few moments to take a closer look and appreciate it. (And if you can't swing it, I've attached a few recent drawings by my son.)