What Kids Really Draw

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It dawns on me from time to time how hilarious it is that I am an adult thinking up ideas for kids to make art. I mean, first of all, I’m not sure what drives me to do that, but I completely love coming up with kid art ideas. Maybe it’s the excuse for unbridled creative play, or the opportunity to buy lots of art materials.

Anyway. I think about this and how there are two types of art that kids do. There are the projects we adults think up for them to do, and then there is the kid drawing. This is the kid art that makes me want to weep sometimes because it is so brilliant and unfiltered.

I remember an evening 12 years ago when Christian and I were sitting around our dining table with Erik, who was then 6. He drew a dinosaur. The dinosaur was fucking perfect. It was simple, it was on the very bottom of this big piece of paper, with all this beautiful white space around it. It was drawn with red Sharpie, and there was not an extraneous detail on the thing. The handling of the lines was exquisite. I felt a pang of jealousy that my art-making was so fraught with rules and anxiety.

Both of us started throwing out ideas for what we wanted Erik to draw, because we realized in a few years his drawings would go the way of all of our drawings: too thought out.

This post could be a whole metaphor for childhood, but let’s stick with the art. Actually, I don’t have much more to say about the art. Instead I want to show you some of the drawings that my 7 year old can sit and spend hours on, even though his brain doesn’t let him focus for more than 45 seconds on math or reading.

These drawings don’t focus on color theory, composition, holidays, or media. They are all about his imagination (he makes sound effects while drawing), guns, wars, blood, expressions, weird appendages, and of course good vs. evil. Sometimes the drawings are just weird. I’ll spare you the penis and butt party he drew last year. But it certainly looked like they were all having fun dancing around at that party.

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