The art of innocence


The picture above was drawn by my 3 year old daughter a little while ago, before she learnt to draw flowers, or houses or people.  I love the pattern she has created.  The freedom of expression with out the constraints of any rules to follow.

I can now see this stage is beginning to be lost.

This post was inspired by a conversation I am having on Instagram, with a wonderful Australian woman, Melissa Guyatt, who is behind Weave and Wonder.  I think I found Melissa through one of her abstract stitching pictures, and Melissa found this picture on my feed.  She commented her daughter has a very similar style, and so sparked a lovely dialogue about the points I am about to try and discuss now.

People often say that they can see my architectural background in the art work that I have produced.  This training instilled a lot of rules and regulations in the way I think and create images, although perhaps the regulations and restraints started long before that.  I really appreciate and enjoy the fact that that this experience has had some influence on the art that I am producing now.  It tells a story of me as an artist, that can be read through my work.  I do like rules.  I think there is something comforting and safe knowing that I am conforming to some kind of boundaries, if not external, then internal.  Do they create a better conclusion or maybe just a different conclusion?


However, I was obviously a child once too.  I once had the freedom of innocent expression, without the constraints of rules.  I have started to wonder whether to become a better artist, or to explore another side to my work, I should  be trying to get back to this innocent age.  By forgetting any rules that I have learnt, or imposed upon myself, will I create something better, something that feels more me, something more original?  Would I be able to just let go and return to that state of expression? I’m not so sure anymore!  To me, letting go of any constraints would be incredibly frightening and I guess I would feel lost and unsure.  Maybe to achieve something better, like a lot of things in life, I would have to be brave, to let go and trust in my inner self, trust that I would get there.

Or should it be a compromise and a balance between the structured thinking that I have grown so used to over the past few years, and the the innocent expression that comes from within?  How would you get to this balance though?  Is this balance basically just growing up?  Should the innocent creations be left in our childhood?  To reach a balance I think I would need some practice in getting back to producing art without any rules!

Or is it about knowing when to break the rules?  By breaking rules, boundaries are pushed, new limits are explored and new experiences are revealed.  The people who push these boudaries are often not popular, people are being pushed out of their comfort zone, which the majority may not appreciate.  But who are we, or am I, creating art for?  I am not working as an architect with a specific brief and client.  Currently I am making work primarily for myself.  If other people like it, I am more than happy!  I do have some of my work for sale currently, and hopefully not in the too distant future I will have more available.  Will I still be making work just for me, or will the client’s wishes, what the customer wants, over rule my decisions?  Should I make a conscious decision to stick with what I would like to produce and hope more people out there will find me, like me and want me to continue on this road?


I have found being an adult also comes the tendency to over think everything, stunting any free flowing expression.  Worrying what other people may think of what you have produced.  Will they like it?  Is it acceptable?

I have recently been thinking that I want to start sketching again, well probably more doodling!  Maybe this has been an unconscious cry to get back to more unrestrained way of working and thinking?  Would this be a way to accommodate a compromise between the way I work?  A free flowing, unrestrained starting point to work from.  Who knows, I guess I can only give it a go and see what happens.  Be that brave person, let go of the rules just to produce a little sketch.

I would love to know if you have any thoughts about what I have tried to talk about.  I hope it has made sense!  Do you create by a set of rules or do you think your art comes from a very innocent place?  How do you find your freedom?


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2 thoughts on “The art of innocence

  1. Fantastic post. Really interesting points you raise in it. I think there is only ever one way to find out and thats to jump! But you will never loose your style. You may find you enjoy doing both kinds of work equally and both are as valid as each other. After all the way you work now has grown from the life you have lived up until this point, so how can that not be valid?
    However in that odd way the world has of throwing things at you I have stumbled across a couple of relevant things to this discussion in the last week. The first was cartoonist and illustrator Annie Tempest talking on midweek on R 4 on Wed last week. She was taking about how she has started studying anatomy as part of learning to sculpt and how it started to have a detrimental effect on her drawing and how she has built systems to counter this.
    Then on Friday afternoon I took my eldest son (10) to see Quentin Blake talk at the art gallery in town. He said something that has stuck with me ever since and I can’t stop thinking about as I watch my youngest (5) furiously drawing all over every thing in sight. He was saying that when we are young we have two languages, both equally valid, that we learn in parallel with each other. Language and drawing, or speech and visual. But we are taught that the visual is not as valid and are discouraged in developing it further. He was saying how important it is not to quash this ability in children.
    Any way I’ve written rather a lot and time is ticking, nearly time for breakfast and then school run, so I will say thank you and goodbye!
    Good luck in figuring this one out!

    1. Thank you so much for taking the time this morning to write this comment, I really appreciate it!

      I love what you learnt at the Quentin Blake lecture. Such an interesting observation and something I think is so true. It really does make me think how i deal with my children’s artistic development.

      I do find it fascinating the different perspectives people have on this subject.

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