My mother works with children and yesterday, she came by to my place with two boys that are really interested in drawing. They were, I guess, around six years old or something, maybe younger.
Since I work part time at the university, in a computer lab, I get to demonstrate Wacom tablet and Photoshop and digital painting to a lot of different people. There always seems to be that problem with getting them to understand how the pen works that its not like a mouse ( in other words, well, you dont scroll with it) and that you cant keep your eyes on the tablet when youre painting. The older they are, the more difficult it seems to get. There are issues trying to get to the menus, there are problems with putting the nib down on the exact spot they want (such as continuing on a line that you have previously drawn). I always tell them that you learn it, that after a week using the pen itll be all right.
The kids though
and Ive experienced this before, because there have been kids at my job previously
they seem to pick it up intuitively. There is no need to explain. You point and say, you paint there and it shows up there. These two boys were painting with great glee after having watched me do the same for just a few minutes. It was quite amazing to see the open mindedness. There were no complaints about how stupid it is to paint in one place and have it show up in another, in fact, there seemed to be no problems at all with this for them.
So Im thinking, why do we grow so old and boring, and why do the tools get more and more difficult to learn? Im aware that children learn more quickly and pick up new tools more easily, but Im starting to suspect that it is in no small part due to grownups simply being adverse to new things and wanting everything to work exactly like theyre used to (in other words, either precisely like a mouse, or precisely like a normal pen). It was amazing to see these kids paint so smoothly and so instinctually, even though they were young enough that they still held the pen in a clumsy, chubby hand. One of them painted a dinosaur, or was it a crocodile, and the picture was far better than what most of the adults I show the pen to would manage on their first try. Ive heard artists complain about the stupidness of the tool, about how inconvenient the pen is, how impossible it is to hit the same dot a second time with the nib so why do two kids, less than six years old, learn so quickly and easily this difficult tool?
And speaking of the tools how many times havent I tried to instruct adults in the use of Photoshop, and ended up with endless amounts of, its impossible, too complicated and people claiming the program is too difficult, yet these boys had no issues, within minutes they could pick their own colours, erase their mistakes and even smudge the lines they were painting.
On another note, wow, it was wonderful to see their excitement over the tablet, over my pictures, over the pictures in Exposé and Dartiste that I showed them. Im thinking they are two new little artists in making. Mom is going to try to get her work place to order a graphire for the kids to use.