Red gauche on paper

Let’s for a moment accept the proposition that children artists can be considered “real artists.” What an odd type of artist a child makes, if you think about it. What a short career a child has as an artist, always in transition. Who could be worse at writing an artist’s statement than a child?

Please look at the painting above and ask yourself, what does it depict? I have looked at this artwork many times and I always have had more or less the same interpretation of the content. But what was the artist’s intention? Are our views similar? Why don’t I ask the artist? In fact, I am the artist. I painted this sometime during the early 1970’s, but I have no memory of doing so. I have no idea what I intended. I somehow doubt that my interpretation of the picture (which I remember from later in my childhood) is in fact what I was thinking when I painted it.

The painting is framed behind glass, which makes it difficult to photograph. My mother made frames for many of my sister’s and my artworks, without which they would certainly have been lost. Children’s art was the main artwork in our house when I was growing up. If it were not for this early encouragement, I probably would not have become an artist.

Do you frame your children’s art? Do you ever think of the long-term implications of doing so (or not doing so)?

. . .

I enjoyed reading the different interpretations of this painting by Sunil, Steve, Rex, Leslie, June, and Birgit. I never had the idea of a giant figure on the right before, but Sunil’s comment made me look at the picture in a different way. An area of agreement is that the picture shows a man. I would really like to know what I thought I was doing when I made this.

I’ve been thinking about this picture a lot, about the role of the “artist.” Here is what I think: my mother’s role in this picture was something like that of a photographer. She didn’t “make” the image by hand, but she created the conditions for it to be made. Presumably it was one of many paintings. She selected this one, framed it and saved it. I think she chose this image for a reason, because it is a compelling. She could also have made a compelling photograph of a pattern of clouds in the sky that looked a lot like a man on a dock or a boat, or what have you. I think my role as a three or four year old painter is completely accidental.

Is children’s art art? It seems to me that it can be, but a parent or some adult has an important role to play in making it art — selecting what is good and presenting it as art.