Like everybody else I'm always surprised by the vitality of art made by kids. Something about collecting bugs and wearing pajamas with feet gives young artists the ability to draw with shocking freshness and immediacy. I don't pretend to know how they do it, but it's been on my mind lately and I thought I'd record my thoughts here.
To start with, surely some of the magic comes from the little rugrats never cleaning their brushes. When they want to paint with yellow they use the same dirty brush they used a minute before when they were painting with red. The kids benefit from a lucky accident because this unintentional mixing gives the new color texture, which always makes color more appealing. Not only that but the sloppy colors benefit from the kind of optical mixing that impressionists like Seurat used to talk about.
Then there's the kid belief that every living thing disturbs the air around them and emits an aura of grief marks or sunbeams (above). Where kids get that from I can't even guess. Exceptions to this rule are army men, ghosts and dinosaurs, which are never granted sunbeams.
Thanks to "N" for pointing out that the picture above is of a lion and the sunbeams are simply its mane. I don't know how I could have overlooked something so obvious, and I almost changed the caption, but my long experience with my own kids' drawings seems to confirm that kids will deliberately choose subjects that lend themselves to sunbeams, cilia and fringe. Primitive masks are often like that.
The subject of kid pictures is never a unified whole, but is rather a collection of parts, which are separate and distinct. The lady above is a nothing more than a dress, legs and shoes. The bike is wheels and a frame. Usually the collection of parts is given grief by some evil being. Here (above) the collection of parts that is the woman is beset by a demon newsboy...or is that just the just the artist hitching a ride?
Here's (above) a raging duck man surrounded by blue dots. Since kids like to menace their their subjects I'll guess that the blue dots are killer bees or bombs. Whatever they are, it's a safe bet that the kid who drew it had a definite idea about what they were. Kids don't draw for the sake of drawing. Everything always represents something.
How do you like the color here? That yellow and orange ground really makes the blue pop out, and the black is a perfect counterpoint.
Here (above) the warship goes into battle with all guns blazing. Kids don't get distracted by nuances like the color of a late afternoon sky reflected in the sea water. For kids a battle scene portrays battle, clear and simple, and the battle is one of epic dimensions. The nobility of the brave ship is honored by cilia-type sunbeams of fire power.