“Yes, Reindeer Can Be Red.”
This coming year, I am resolving to find fearlessness. The kind of fearlessness that showed up last week in the most unexpected place: at our annual Christmas Art Workshop in the heart of L.A.’s inner-city. 200 young artists with about 199 wildly different approaches to the art projects presented to them. (Pic #2).
The highlight for me came in the form of a question. A young man I had never met before began to tug on my shirt asking, “Miss, can you please tell me what color the antlers are on Santa’s reindeer?” I gulped. The former news reporter in me wanted to answer with scientific research (or course they are light brown, or beige, much like their coats of fur) — while the artist in me wanted to say, “You are the artist. You get to paint them any color you want.” Thank God I was able to let the artist out.
I began to see that almost every child had “invented” his or her own color scheme, and that I might have been the only one tempted to search a National Geographic documentary for the “right” answer. The boy who asked me began to paint his antlers bright orange, and I nearly cried.
The girl next to him chose baby blue, and her sister went with black. I couldn’t have been happier. One girl actually covered over all of her back-and-white lines to create an abstract cloud of sparkly bliss. (Pic #4) Another painted a free-form, textured Jackson Pollock. (Pic #3) Color me ecstatic.
I need to remember there are no rules in art — and if only for a second we think there are — we have lost touch with those critical creative qualities we are born with: an innate sense of exploration, experimentation, freshness, and whimsy. These are the touchstones of great art – and I thank God I get to witness them in their full glory every year. Whenever I am short on inspiration, I will remember the reindeer.