Pablo Picasso at an early age showed a kind of artistic skill that his father forthwith initiated a formal training in the arts for him. The lessons may have constrained the young Picasso that he later confessed he had little chance to go into the sort of artistic expressions a child his age needed to explore.
“Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once we grow up,” Picasso was quoted as saying.
In the course of things, he integrated insinuations of children’s art into his adult works.
“I could paint like Raphael even as a young child. It took me many years to learn how to paint like these children,” he said at an exhibition of children’s art.
Children see the world around them in their own conception and unadorned meaning. It is not, therefore, unusual for them to create a pink elephant or a Smiley apple.
Their range of artistry is boundless and surreal. Art, as felt by a child, is fun and provides them self-expression. It gives them a way to let out their feelings and ideas and can be the stepping stone to serious creative works and refined adulthood.
At age 2, a child may show an early fondness for tasks like writing or drawing. By the age of 3, from the instance that his fingers could hold a crayon, no blank space—a wall at home, especially—is no longer safe from their imagination.
This eventually turns a child effortlessly into the appreciation of colors and honing of fine motor skills such as the coordination of muscle movements in the fingers and arms with left and right, up and down motions.
As children make their drawings, sketches, and paintings, they get to further learn about their young world—colors, sizes, shapes, and the basic sense of perspective. Their use of glue, markers, and paints make them plan out new ideas and cultivate them into something else. In mixing paints of different colors and density, they learn they can produce changes in each, either by instinctive choice or a hit-and-miss attempt.
Children’s art starts with the “tadpole” style—human figures with a circle for a head, arms, and legs spread out from a stick for a torso. A new maturity emerges when the “tadpole” figures get dressed up in identifiable boy/girl fashion, gather themselves with background objects and a whisper of a landscape—boats, animals, birds, churches with crosses, multi-story buildings, flowers—with a skyline, sun, and clouds.
Such drawings, cute to the viewers, can easily turn us into happy marshmallows. This process, later on, becomes more realistic. A storyline is created with a more defined perspective, realistic spacing, and storytelling in a comic strip series of drawings.
The early unfocused creativity containing “nonsensical” art and “absurdities” in the eyes of an adult now shows a deep creative intention, calling out for wider possibilities for self-expression.
Children who engage in art activities want to be taken seriously. Their drawings are not just cute expressions to connect with their surroundings and their vision of the world and have fun doing them. Art activities also give them a way to deal with greater emotions such as physical pain and affectional concerns.
Art is a perfect therapy. Children with autism and speech disability express their feelings that otherwise remain pent up because they have difficulty in expressing them. Those who have undergone the horrors of war and eventual displacement, calamities, and extreme poverty find comfort in being able to get away from it all through art activities. Those afflicted with long-term pathological conditions have turned to creating art to shake off unhappy thoughts.
We always maintain a soft spot for children, especially when we feel them bravely seeking their own life’s meaning. A number of children are exactly doing that—fighting off the uncertainties of living with a fearful disease like cancer—through immersion in art.
Hosted by the Czech Republic Embassy in the Philippines, with Czech Republic Ambassador HE Jana Sediva Treybalova as special guest, the Paseo Art Gallery at Glorietta in Makati City recently opened its doors wide for an exhibit called Art For A Cause, showcasing paintings created by children, aged 3 to 15, all pediatric patients with leukemia and lymphoma at the National Children’s Hospital.
The youngest, 4-year-old Glenn Cheever Buagas, who couldn’t get enough of his energetic romp inside the gallery, has acute lymphoblastic leukemia. He is particularly proud of his “Two Dinosaurs” with some help from friends at the hospital, but the handprints are his.
Adrian James Sandigan started drawing when he was 3 years old. He is now 5, afflicted with acute lymphocytic leukemia which did not stop his imagination from creating his “The Green Turtle.”
Marx James Bedia was 12 years old when he knew he wanted to paint. At 14, and sick with non-Hodgkin lymphoma, he says his “Moon Over Blue Sky” goads him to make more images if only to amuse himself.
Aira Maureen Castro was 15 years old when she got herself truly busy with painting. Her works, among others, “The Ballerina” and “Flamingos In Love” are constant reminders to not lose hope which her mother leans on for moral support.
Rhianne Trixie Bicenio’s hair has now a healthy growth despite her undergoing several chemotherapy sessions. She is now 9 years old and wants to make more paintings like her “Dancing Minnie” and “Orange Blossoms.”
Daniel Ivan Pedrosa is 15 years old. He quit school when he was in Grade 8 when he was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia. Some of his pieces are “Cherry Blossoms” and “Red Sky Over Blue Waters.”
The exhibit’s invitation bears the artwork of 5-year-old Precious Althea Vetonio, which she didn’t get to see because she passed away last month.
The exhibit will run until Feb. 4. The paintings are for sale and all proceeds will go to the children for their treatment needs.
There are varied paintings on exhibit at the Paseo Art Gallery that in time could be desirably displayed in some collector’s wall of fame.
Give the children some time to blossom. We may have one or two Wang Yani in our midst.
Photos by Diana B. Noche
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