“If you can’t share, we’ll have to take it away.” -Myla Hendricks, age 4
When it comes to life lessons, one of the most valuable ones we can learn is that sometimes, if you want to flourish, you have to let go of your need to be in control of a situation. This can be true when it comes to your work, your friends, your family, your hobbies and even the very things you’re most passionate about, even though those are often the most difficult. Jack Johnson told the world this relatively recently in The Sharing Song, which you can have a listen to, below.
Well, artist Mica Angela Hendricks had an experience like this a year ago when her then four-year-old, Myla, wanted access to Mica’s sketchbook. Understandably, Mica said no, knowing that Myla would simply draw — with all the fine motor skills of a four-year-old — all over the book, ruining her vision for her sketches. But when Myla threw her mother’s own lines about the importance of sharing back at her, Mica realized the horrifyingly inevitable truth of the situation: she was going to have to share.
And her carefully planned, meticulously executed sketches were now going to have blob-shaped bodies, scrawled-on limbs, and random “accessories” added onto them.
But whereas that might be the defeated end for most people in Mica’s situation, she took the opportunity to use this as a collaborative opportunity, where she then took another crack at her daughter’s improvements to create a finished work-of-art that that’s reminiscent of both The Monster Engine and Axe Cop.
Hear Mica tell the story of her collaboration in her own words:
“These are collaborative paintings by my 4-year-old daughter and me. I start by quietly drawing a vintage, retro head (which I love doing). Next step: My daughter (who LOVES to draw) hastily snatches my sketchbook from me and draws a body and sometimes additional characters. Later, I go back and add highlights and details in acrylic paint, colored ballpoint pen, and marker. Together, they create a beautiful collaboration…as well as an exercise in patience (on both our parts).”
The results create something both beautiful and creative, where the viewpoints of both artists are well-represented.
The detailed, true-to-life heads and faces might seem out of place in their new settings, but it makes the project all the more interesting to me.
And, of course, no detailed head would be complete without every child’s cartoonish fantasy: mer-people!
Even though this fascination began a year ago, it’s grown and continued as time has gone on. Mother and daughter have moved on to collaborate on an alphabetical animals project,
to share their how-it’s-made process with the world,
and they’ve created a book together, which they put together with the help of a Kickstarter Page.
There’s plenty in there that reminds me of The Little Prince, where an adult looking at a drawing has no idea what they’re looking at, only to have it become painfully obvious when explained by the child who drew it. For instance…
What is that strawberry-looking thing? It’s a chrysalis, as obviously the caterpillar woman needs to transform into a butterfly!
And in the end, Mica learned much more than her daughter did.
“And from it all, here are the lessons I learned: to try not to be so rigid. Yes, some things (like my new sketchbook) are sacred, but if you let go of those chains, new and wonderful things can happen. Those things you hold so dear cannot change and grow and expand unless you loosen your grip on them a little. In sharing my artwork and allowing our daughter to be an equal in our collaborations, I helped solidify her confidence, which is way more precious than any doodle I could have done. In her mind, her contributions were as valid as mine (and in truth, they really were). Most importantly, I learned that if you have a preconceived notion of how something should be, YOU WILL ALWAYS BE DISAPPOINTED. Instead, just go with it, just ACCEPT it, because usually something even more wonderful will come out of it.”
Go ahead and check out everything they’ve created, and have a great Labor Day weekend!