Sunday, November 9, 2014


I thought I remembered Picasso remarking that “Children are the enemy of creativity.” It turns out he never said anything of the kind. Why would he? He never allowed anyone (especially his children) to interfere with his creative life. He actually said “good taste” was the enemy of creativity; I don’t think he thought of his children as impediments at all.

Hang-Ups   34"x46 Acrylic on canvas
So if not Picasso, who then? I turned to Google and came up with several hundred thousand “hits.” Apparently, it was British author, Cyril Connolly, who famously said “There is no more somber enemy of good art than the pram in the hall.”  Anyone who has gone through the sleep-deprived months (or years) following the birth of a child might be tempted to agree with him, although I don’t know a single person, who, in retrospect, would have done things differently. Like childbirth, the pain of sleepless nights quickly dissipates once a normal schedule is established.

Child's Play   38"x48"   Acrylic on canvas
It turns out that, according to Google, (what would we do without Google?) lots of things can be blamed for lack of creativity: some internal, some external. Ray Bradbury was quoted saying  “Don’t think! Thinking is the enemy of creativity; just DO!” Saul Steinberg suggested “boredom;” Sylvia Plath said “self doubt.” David Lynch offered “negativity.”  A writer I never heard, Lucas Parry, blamed procrastination, fear of failure and any form of self doubt. My own candidate is “perfectionism”. The need to be correct all the time discourages experimentation.

My Life & Art   36"x48"  Acrylic on canvas
As for children, it’s obvious that if you haven’t slept in months you’re not going to do very well on the creativity scale. On the good side, when you finally do get a night’s sleep, you tend to work demonically to make up for lost time. And children do grow up eventually and/or you can hand over dealing with them to “experts,” leaving you free to pursue your creative life. In the long run, I agree with most people who study creativity: rigidity of thinking kills it, not children. I admit that three children in five years took a toll on my creative life but, in the long run, I’ve had plenty of child-free time to create and if I haven’t accomplished all that I set out to do, the Pram in the Hall wasn’t to blame.

Oh, and by the way, a friend of mine reminded me not to forget “having to earn a living.” He’s right. That can kill creativity faster than anything else,. 

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