Collaborations and Caterpillar Ladies
I came across the best blog post recently, about an artist who accidentally began collaborating with her 4-year old daughter.
The artist, Mica Angela Hendricks, often works side-by-side with her daughter in the studio. One day, she surreptitiously attempted to try out a high-quality sketchbook without attracting her daughter’s attention because she didn’t want to waste the good paper with scribbles. Of course, her daughter saw her sneaking this wonderful new paper, and expected to get full dibs on it too. Hendricks wasn’t able to justify why she didn’t want to share without undoing four years’ worth of parenting lessons, so she reluctantly turned over her half-done portrait sketch, suggesting that her daughter could work on it too.
Her 4-year old proceeded to embellish the drawing in the most imaginative ways. First one, then another, then another collaboration turned out beautifully. They hit on a pattern, where Hendricks begins with a portrait, then turns the drawing over to her daughter for creating bodies and backgrounds. Mom’s fairly detailed heads grow simplified bodies, or transform into insects, or are out-of-proportion in unusual ways. They become fantastical creatures in odd worlds. After the daughter is done, the drawing goes back to Mom for a final application of color or general summing-up.
The drawings are wonderful and spirited, and sometimes even poignant. The thing is, they work much better with that childlike injection of unselfconscious confidence. Artists can overthink, and overdraw. Hendricks says that her daughter reclaimed some life and spirit that the drawings were missing–even though she herself didn’t know they were missing anything.
It’s a great lesson in letting go, following the muse, and of course — sharing!
Please read Hendricks’ original post, fittingly titled Collaborating with a 4-year Old.