by

Austin Kleon, “Drawing skeletons and other scary things”:

When you draw things, you’re in control of them. You’re making them exist. You’re in charge of the world. When you watch TV, you’re totally passive. You’re at the mercy of whatever comes on the screen next.

Drawing gives you power over your own mental and emotional life. Like other forms of play, it allows you to explore the scarier parts of life in a safe, controlled way.

This is the essential thing to know about kids’ drawings and why they are so good: they are not about representation as much as they are about conjuring and exploring. “Having an experience on the page,” as Lynda Barry puts it.

I had not really thought about it that way before. It makes a lot of sense and sheds a different light on the endless stream of super-detailed monsters, zombies, and other ghoulish stuff my eight-year-old draws.