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Reconnecting with Childhood Through Art: Reflections on my Painting Practice.

Saturday 04 November 2023

I want to paint from a place of childhood. This is difficult for me. After observing my behaviours around judgement, and why I am making art in the first place, I feel that my painting wants to come from a child-state of making art, simply because it is fun.

All my ideas, plans, and thinking about what I want to paint or what I want to say seem to reach a dead end. The art that comes from my careful, exacting, knowing mind is forced and ineffective because of its strained intentions. It is too clouded by behavioural influences and deep conditioning - too unreal. I want to strip it back to the basics - form, colour, brushstrokes. But I am in my mind again. What does my child-self want to paint?

A deep inhale as I set aside my thoughts and connect with my childhood. From that place, I feel very excited about making art. There are no thoughts about what to paint just an excitement and a motivation to create. (On this point, it strikes me that there is a lot we can learn from children. Perhaps art institutions should be learning from children who make art as play. Imagine if we had never been told that our art was 'good' or 'bad' when we scribbled with crayons at school, or smushed paint onto paper with half-cut potatoes - the freedom we might now have to enjoy making art for the sake of it.) This mindless joy in the act of making art - this is where I want to be.

And yet - there is tension. Connecting with my childhood is difficult. It has taken at least five years to heal from trauma and feel confident enough, to trust myself enough, to bridge the gap between past and present. I know that paintings which come from this place will show me things that are not easy to see. The very connection to my childhood triggers me for the disconnection I felt as a child, and have always felt to some degree. In this sense, painting is a continuation of my healing.

When I first started reflecting on my painting practice, I wrote that I wanted to be truthful. I feel that I can show no greater commitment to my own truth than developing my relationship and reconnecting with my childhood. Painting is the healing step which aims to connect me with a child-like joy and happiness which is present when I make art. In my practice, I will be brave enough to confront the fear and allow myself simply to be happy.

Painting - Next steps:

  • Go to the Northern Quarter - buy paints in a limited colour palette

  • Think about what objects/subjects are meaningful in reconnecting with childhood - also consider the environment. Take photos.

  • Do some drawings for reference (and for fun!) and start painting on canvas boards.


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