“Everyone starts off as an artist. The trick is remaining that way.” - Pablo Picasso

Do you remember playing pretend as a child? The entire world was an adventure. Any backyard could become a magical realm, with each dewy blade of grass a possible home for a fairy; each towering oak tree a hideout for elves and dwarves; every last gust of wind the breath of a dragon. Our younger selves embraced the imaginative, without self-censoring and bringing ourselves “back to earth.” Somewhere in the process of growing older, we trade in this spirit of creative curiosity for strict practicality, and all too often, the infinite colors and dimensions seen by young eyes dim and fade. 

An artist’s journey is equal parts studying technique and reawakening this childlike wonder and imagination. We have to strip away the bricks of self-judgment, self-censorship, and “practicality” that build walls preventing us from coloring outside of the lines and seeing the world in a different light. We are born with creativity and imagination. We are taught how to restrain these things. And as artists, we must work to release them again. 

Imagination is a beautiful thing, and I try to exercise mine every day! Though I often paint subjects that are based on animals, locations, and items in my life, I use my imagination to capture the essence and feeling of these items in a dynamic and vibrant way that may not be entirely “realistic” or “accurate” in the standard sense of the words. For example, I play with color in imaginative ways. In one of my works, “Picasso Le Chat,” I highlight my cat’s silky fur and serene spirit with calming blues and purples, versus his black and white coloring. When I started on this painting, I gave my imagination the opportunity to run free and think, “how I make this look the way it feels?” I gave myself permission to see the world around me in different colors - blues and purples - that sparked a feeling. Does a child coloring question every crayon he or she picks up, wondering if that’s the most realistic shade? Most often, no! He or she picks the color that gets the mind and heart going, whirring with creativity and the feeling the drawing ignites. 

We spend too much time stifling our own imaginations. Today, I ask you to let yours soar. If you haven’t picked up a paintbrush in a long time (even if it’s been since childhood!), I implore you to grab one today and just let your creativity flow. Don’t worry if what you’re painting is “right” or “good.” Give yourself the opportunity to see the world through a child’s eyes, and return to that magic. Remember: you were born with imagination and creativity, and as Picasso says, you started off as an artist. Today, try your hardest to hold on to that. You may enjoy seeing your backyard return to that magical realm, after all. :)