One of the most awe-inspiring qualities I see among my young inner-city painters is fearlessness. I love the way they slap on coats of unexpected color onto their seasonal gourds or Easter eggs.
They don’t ponder the pairings, but almost dare to bemuse adults with their carefree combos.
The young artist above (Pic #1) unknowingly made a phenomenal reference to what I saw as a “classic Fauvist” color palette: he juxtaposed complementary brights, like orange and purple in ways Henri Matisse (father of Fauvism) would have enthusiastically embraced. (Pic #2)
In the early 1900s, Matisse and André Derain formed a group of artists who painted with outrageously bold colors. This new in-your-face trend basically freaked out the art world, and the painters were dubbed “Les Fauves” which in French means “wild beasts.”
In Matisse’s “Woman with a Hat” (Pic #4), the artist uses bright and unnatural colors to paint the portrait; he wasn’t worried about making the painting look exact, but rather creating an interesting arrangement of colors and shapes.
This is the perfect lesson for our young artists. I always like to encourage them to experiment, and explore form and color rather than perfectly replicating an object or scene.
Interestingly, experts say bright color aligns with a child’s energy. “Kids are drawn to it naturally, and love playful interaction with it. They play with color like they play with toys.”
While we often feel compelled to correct a child with mismatched socks, or colors that make no sense, it’s way more exciting to see his or her own creative combinations. It’s what keeps me coming back to the art table.