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The Power of a Child’s Art

Sally-Lloyd Jones, the author of the popular Jesus Storybook Bible for Children, tells the following story about visiting the Museum of Modern Art in New York City:

A few years ago, I overheard someone commenting on a piece of [modern] non-representational art. I think it was a Rothko [a 20th century American abstract painter]. "My child could to that!" someone said. I take that as a compliment.

“My child could do that.” But really, isn't that the point? Artists like Rothko were specifically drawn to children's art. Picasso once said, “It took me four years to paint like Raphael, but a lifetime to paint like a child.”

The power of a child's art is defined by what they can't do--by their lack. They know they can't do it. And as a result, their art is not about showing off skill or expertise. It's coming from somewhere else. It's all heart ... A child is physically not able to master [pencil or paints]. They struggle to depict things--and every line has heart ... The power of the art of a child comes not from their ability or their strength. It comes from their weakness, their not being able, their vulnerability.

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