Friday, August 26, 2016

Paint Like A Child

Acrylic on newsprint

It took me four years to paint like Raphael
but a lifetime to paint like a child. Picasso

Leonard Shlain had me at Chapter 1. In the first pages of his book, Art & Physics, Shlain uses the example of babies associating images with feelings before verbal communication is learned. 

      "Long before speech occurs, a baby develops an association between the image of the bottle and a feeling of satisfaction. Gradually the baby accumulates a variety images of bottles...synthesizing these images, the child's emerging conceptual faculties invent an abstract image that encompasses the idea of an entire group of objects that she or he will recognize as bottles. This step in abstraction allows the infant to understand the idea of "bottleness." Still without language, the baby can now signal desire by pointing.
      Then at a certain moment, in that part of the brain called Broca's area, the connections between synapses attain a critical number (tipping point), tripping a switch that suddenly lights up the magical power of language. As soon as the baby connects the bottle's image with the word "bottle", this word begins to blot out the image..."

I thought about Picasso's desire to "paint like a child." I believe what Picasso meant was his yearning to have the  ability to tune into that natural abstract state we all found ourselves bathed in at birth.

Before we had the expression of language, we verbalized through color and shape which was our first form of identification or labeling. We did not yet have the verbal tool of language. 

As abstract artists we try to paint things "that don't yet have words*" I am excited to continue this book in the hopes it will  help remove the veil of  spoken language and lead me back to the time where my only words were expressed through feelings, colors and amorphous shapes.