Part Three of my series in Toddler Lessons is Toddler Art.
Toddlers love art, and they have a surprisingly sophisticated grasp on a wide range of artistic styles and techniques. Here are ten, as demonstrated by toddler artists.
1. Abstract Art
Abstract art is the primary style of the toddler artist. That yellow squiggle represents ‘Mummy, a mermaid and my sandwich’, mostly because toddler artists feel compelled to give an answer when asked what their squiggle is a picture of. Toddlers actually take the concept of abstraction beyond the confines of art, and can often be seen applying it as a general approach to life, sometimes spending entire days at a time engaging in activities with no connection to reality.
Toddlers usually work in the Baroque style when creating art on walls and furniture, using exaggerated motion and clear, grandiose scribbles to effectively create drama and tension when the masterpiece is discovered by a parent.
Toddler artists can be identified by their unique take on composition. Toddlers like to arrange all visual elements in their artwork on top of each other in a tiny space, not quite on the corner of the paper, leaving the rest of the page blank.
Surrealism features very heavily in toddler artwork. Particularly when the artwork appears on the cat.
5. Colour Theory
In toddler art, colour theory is the belief that the visual effect of any piece of art can be substantially improved by the specific colour combination of liberally adding black over the top of everything else.
6. Portrait Painting
Toddler portrait paintings are slightly different, being intended not so much to depict a human subject as to appear on a human subject.
For toddlers, an impressionist work is a beautiful and intricate piece of art etched into the dining room table whilst the toddler was giving the impression of drawing on their paper.
Toddlers are minimalist geniuses, so much so that they can turn any piece of artwork into a minimalist masterpiece. A picture of a cat and some flowers, carefully drawn by Mummy for the toddler to colour in, for example, can be transformed into a minimalist study in blue, by the simple application of heavy and indiscriminate scribbling in blue crayon across the whole page. Such is a toddler’s commitment to minimalism that entire weeks can be spent agreeing to colour only in orange. The ultimate toddler exercise in minimalism is, of course, the careful colouring of a white sheet of paper in white crayon.
Toddlers sometimes like to use expressionism to colour on baby siblings, representing the subjective perspective that it is highly amusing to colour on baby siblings, and evoking moods of annoyance (parents) and confusion (baby sibling), and the idea that all pens should be removed from the house.
10. Conceptual Art
Like Tracey Emin’s work, much toddler art work leads firstly to confused whispering. ‘Is this art?’ ‘What is this meant to be?’ Followed by ultimately fruitless questioning of the artist, which leaves no one any the wiser. As conceptual art, toddler art is quite brilliant: the nature of art can consider itself questioned.