Conformity Kills Art

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One of the things I resented getting as a present when I was a child was a paint by numbers set. Not that I hated painting, but I detested the fact that someone else’s “rules” dictated what color of paint goes with each number, especially since I thought different colors were more interesting. So, yeah, I ignored the numbers and used the colors I liked best. Of course, there was always a pesky certain person who had to point out that I was doing it “wrong.” It’s the same reason I hated coloring sheets in kindergarten when Mrs. Genenetti strolled behind our desks reminding us to “stay inside the lines!” I much preferred just a blank piece of paper and the bucket of crayons to enjoy free-form creativity. Where conformity exists and is expected, artistry cannot thrive. Think of all of the different eras and styles in the history of the art world and how utterly boring and dull it would have been had pioneering artists not pushed their envelopes to do things differently. The creative minds of young children are quite fascinating to explore when you engage a youngster about their work, even if — to you — it looks like a nonsensical blob of colors. I learned a long time ago the worst thing you can ask when a little one proudly shows you his artwork is, “What is THAT?!” During a recent visit to a friend’s house, her almost 5-year-old took me to the kitchen to show off his “exhibit” of work on display all over the fridge — most of it superhero and Disney character pages with some pretty wild colors. When I said to him, “Wow! What an interesting choice of colors you used!” he agreed and then launched into a pint-sized “dissertation” explaining each one and why he picked them. Just goes to show that what’s brewing around in a little head is more than meets the eye sometimes, and it’s perfectly OK to color outside the lines!

Chad Young is the managing editor and arts/entertainment editor for this publication.

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