There’s a great moment, in an old Will Smith film called Six Degrees of Separation, where an art teacher is showing off the water colour paintings of a classroom full of eight year olds. Somehow, these paintings are magnificent. Every one of them a bold and wonderful landscape, or haunting portrait or daring abstract, each with brilliant composition and personality.
All of them.
These are the canvases that generations of expressionists have longed to be able to create, all dashed off by eight year olds with casual ease.
“How on earth did you teach your students to paint so beautifully?” the art instructor is asked.
“I taught them nothing,” she answers, “I just hand them the brushes and watch them paint. My trick is knowing when to take the paintings away and knowing how to crop ‘em.”
The untrained mind creates some of the most interesting art. The example above is by my untrained ten year old Sean. It’s a portrait of his eight year old sister. And here’s what I like about it beyond the proud papa, lookie at what muh BOY did aspects…! I like that he liberally mixes pencil crayon colours in the hair and face, including some BLUE(!) in the facial features. I never put blue in a flesh tone until college, and even then against my will. But there it is. And the blacks in the blonde hair to tone down the way-too-yellow pencil crayon that was supposed to be blonde. Lovely.
I like the eyes being white, with blue pupils, around gray dots. That’s my favorite part of the portrait, simply because my mind would never go to that interpretation of reality. There’s a bit of Modigliani in there, perhaps. The family has large, framed reproductions of his work up in our house, and he’s one of my favorite painters. To the left is one of the two that hang in his parent’s bedroom, and the elongated face so common to Modigliani’s work is visible in it.
Another painter we have numerous examples of, up around the house, is the deco master (or mistress) Tamara de Lempicka. Her work also features a glassy eye and an elongated face. Since I ain’t a zillionaire, we have framed copies of her work darting about our walls, another influence into the ten year old brain, mayhap…?
And finally, I like that Sean has a habit of cutting his artwork out of the paper it’s drawn on after he’s done. There’s always an element of treating the drawing itself as an object with him…once the art is cut out, it’s then glued to something else, or folded into something, or often just given away in its cut out form.
The trick is knowing when to take it away.
So…take it away Sean Templeton-Smith, this was your first gallery show, and in the company of two modern masters, to boot!
I have four kids in total, each with their own stunning set of talents, so be forewarned, this feature will likely show up again.
Ty the Guy. Once again, tricking the family into doing his job for him.