Note: This is a guest post by illustrator Leah Jay.
Need a creative shot in the arm? Just ask your six year old self for ideas! Many artists already use images from their subconscious that were planted there in childhood. A few simple steps can help you engage in dialogue with your ‘inner child’, and get some new artistic inspiration.
- Look through old photos. If you have some photo albums around, flip through them and see what you looked like. Say hello to your second grade self, relive your friends and activities. Remember those Christmas morning snapshots? Check out the toys you got for Christmas. Did you love some of them more than others? Do you miss them? Why?
- Search through attics or basements. Some parents save their kids’ art work and school papers: if yours did, you’re lucky because these collections can be full of treasures! Your earliest drawings might show characters, people, or ideas you can revisit today.
- Ask a relative for a chat. If your parents are still around, or an older brother or sister or close relative, they can tell you stories about your childhood you haven’t yet heard. What about that time you walked home in the rain by yourself and got lost? Or the big birthday party surprise? How about your first word or your first favorite food? Sometimes these things never make it into the photo albums, but can reveal some new scenes to illustrate.
By revisiting my childhood, I remembered the game of Pretend. It’s hard to recall this state of mind as an adult, but that picture of your stuffed elephant may remind you of a day when you talked to it, and it talked back. Maybe an invisible friend filled that empty chair at your tea party.
Those creatures were once as real to you as your little brother. If you’re like me, you know they all had names, personalities, and adventures with you. These imaginative play or pretend play sessions are now lauded by psychologists as important and even necessary to the development of social skills and creativity.
Those were the days when your imagination was accessible right at the surface. Those days were magical. And while some might have had happy, colorful childhoods, bringing up events from your early life might be scary, painful and dark. Images you gather can carry some unexpected power… don’t be afraid to use what you find. And if you find things you’d rather leave behind, that’s perfectly okay. You’ll know what to use… just take the best and leave the rest.
What is most powerful and moving always comes from within you, and from your own life experiences. Don’t forget your early days on this earth – when things might have never been clearer.