Can you paint like a 2-year-old?

By weird coincidence, we’re quarantined indoors again – just like during the last snowfall. Outside it’s white. Inside, we need colour

My daughter's paintsplash

A splash and a dash © Laura Eades 2014

At first, I was resentful of having a demanding little person around all day when I’d planned to use my time otherwise. And then when we got the paints out, for her the first time ever. It was uplifting and glorious.

Here’s how she painted

She wanted to try every single colour. Imagine: you’ve never dipped your brush in that colour before. Never put it in contact with the paper. Once she’d tried one, she was straight onto another. My job was to try to keep lids on some of the ink bottles. That was harder than it sounds.

She wanted to use a lot of paint. She didn’t want to have a little bit, a controllable quantity. She wanted total abundance. She had to be encouraged to spread out the watery blotches a bit over the paper so they didn’t just soak right through.

She was so fast. But she was absorbed in the painting for quite a while – an hour maybe. I mean, I had to keep throwing her new bits of paper because she got through them very fast. I can’t remember when the session finished – I was running out of space to spread them out to dry.

She wasn’t that bothered about the outcome. She didn’t think about shapes, or name the shapes she made accidentally either. She didn’t reflect on what she’d done. I’m not sure if it was about the paper at all, to be honest. When I showed her the paintings she wasn’t that bothered.

She thought it was very funny when it wasn’t on the paper. My purple face was alright. Ink on the laminate flooring less cool.

She didn’t try to fill the paper. She didn’t seem at all conscious of empty bits of the paper and full parts. She was happy to layer up one area and leave another totally nude.

Do you recognise yourself doing any of these creatively self-limiting things?

I limit myself to a colourscheme that doesn’t surprise me. I’m miserly with materials. I take too long over it and then care too much about it. I pin everything on the results. I don’t think laterally about my canvas. I think I have to fill the whole frame.

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Can you paint like a two-year old? What does splashing about with colours do for us? Why is it so joyful? How can we do more of it? Click on the pale grey plus sign on the dot under the blogpost to open up the comment thread.