Of Memories and Childhood
My favorite subject when I was a Psychology major in college was Human Development. Initially I was quite surprised that such a big chunk of the course material was dedicated to childhood considering there are other important phases in life like adolescence, adulthood and of course old age.
Like Frederick Douglass said, “It is easier to build strong children than to repair broken men.”
I completely agree that the foundation for an adult personality is laid down in childhood. Of course, we could go on and on about nature vs. nurture.
As an artist, what draws me to children the most is their eyes – vulnerable and guileless. This on-going series ‘Childlike’, is a compilation of drawings started in 1999. I know most of the children I’ve sketched and seeing each one brings back some very fond memories. You can view the sketches here.
Here are some of my favorite memories from my own childhood:
- Coming back home from school on Saturday afternoon and chasing butterflies in our front yard for what seemed like eternity.
- Reading as many books as I could lay my hands on. As long as it was a book- or a likeness of one- and there were words in it. Pictures were a bonus.
- Making a tent on the terrace under the stars with my cousins. Those were great nights.
- Playing outside, blowing bubbles, learning how to cycle, wearing a bath towel as a saree, building sand castles with the sand that was being used to build a house, making paper boats and trying to set them sail on rainy days, skipping rope, playing house with dolls, trying to cook real food with a toy kitchen set.
I have so many beautiful memories from my childhood, each year better than the one before.
But as I get older, it seems to me like the years are just racing past me. 2012,13,14,15,16… Why does time fly as we get older?
Psychologist William James, in his 1890 text Principles of Psychology, wrote that as we age, time seems to speed up because adulthood is accompanied by fewer and fewer memorable events. When the passage of time is measured by “firsts” (first kiss, first day of school, first family vacation), the lack of new experiences in adulthood, James morosely argues, causes “the days and weeks [to] smooth themselves out…and the years grow hollow and collapse.”
Sketching children takes me back in time, reminds me to hold on to my naivete, my curiosity, my eagerness to learn and experience new things and to keep an open mind.
I love sketching with pencils – its quick, its non-messy and what’s not to like about monochromes. When I first started, I didn’t care much about using quality paper, but now I know how important acid-free paper is. Although, I must admit I like the yellowed tones on some of my older sketches – it adds character.
I recently discovered the beauty of sketching on the toned tan sketch paper by Strathmore. It’s like looking at a sepia photograph, if you know what I mean. What is your favorite childhood memory? I’d love to hear about it.