IMAGINATION—1: the act or power of forming a mental image of something not present to the senses or never before wholly perceived in reality. 2: a: creative ability b: ability to confront and deal with a problem: resourcefulness. Merriam Webster
Remember what it felt like to lay in the cool grass with the sun on your face while staring into the cerulean blue sky? Remember the ease at which the fleecy clouds turned into a camel, a woman in a fur coat, or host of Looney Tune characters? There was no pressure to see anything in particular, or at any specific speed. It was leisurely and enchanting and time melted away. The painting process offers some of the same given time and openness.
Using the definition above as a guide, the first meaning is easy to understand. But part b of definition 2 “confront and deal” is something to think about in our context. For the most effective and imaginative creating, you “confront and deal” almost at every turn–not just at the start.
We are such good “doers”. We’re prepared to solve problems or implement plans. And we’re eager to put a plan in place as fast as possible lest we feel lost or out of control. We struggle. We strive. But young children don’t strive. They play. They watch. They discover. They explore and unearth. They learn. And they imagine. (So do accomplished artists.)
My 2-and-a-half year old niece was eating her dinner while mom was filming her for out-of-town dad. Mom’s prompting conversation: “What are you eating?” “Ham.” “Do you like ham?” “Unhuh.” “What are we going to do with daddy when he comes home….?” Etc…. In the meantime, Juliette is tearing her large, thin slice of ham into to manageable pieces when suddenly she says “LOOK, a moon!” With a third or fourth unpremeditated rip the round ham turned into the quintessential half-moon. For Juliette it was a moment of delight and wonder–poised to open new worlds.
Mom, however, had an agenda—to communicate with dad. Although she acknowledged the moon, the opportunity to share the discovery and the road to which it might lead was traded in for the dialogue already started. Who knows where the conversation might have gone if moons had become the new topic of conversation….
We’re going to have time to work on the Xmas painting/underpainting exchange this week. Since there may not be much left to be done, bring something else on which to work. It’s a perfect time for me to paint on the wall and together we can see what lay in the marks, strokes and paint that’s waiting to be discovered…..
As Mr. Haywood says at Larson Elementary School in Some-town USA–“Wisdom Begins With Wonder”.