Opinion: The Art Of Letting Go - The Grace Tales

Opinion: The Art Of Letting Go

As her kids make more and more pieces of artwork, Evelyn Lewin finds it harder to know what to keep...

Let me start by saying I’m not a hoarder. Really, I’m not. I prefer to use the term ‘sentimental’ to describe the reason I struggle to know what to do with my kids’ artwork. I’m also not technically minded. Which is why, when I read articles about digital ways to store kids’ artwork I’m amazed, and also somewhat intimidated. It’s just not me.

Before we go any further I think I need to clarify something else. I refer to my kids’ paintings, drawings and the like as ‘artwork’. And some of them are quite incredible. But let’s be honest. A lot of them look like blobs, or stick figures, or simply ‘colours on paper’.

Perhaps if you were an art critic you would beg to differ. It’s probably fair to say son rocked the Abstract era like a boss. He also went through a magnificent Surrealism period. “It’s you and me, mummy,” he’d say, proudly showing me a picture I was about to say looked like, well, um, a monster holding a flower perhaps? I think he’s going through his Picasso period now. You know, one huge eye, one tiny eye, body way out of proportion; that kind of thing.

The truth is I don’t necessarily hold onto my son’s ‘artwork’ because I think it’s the best thing I’ve ever seen. Rather, it has more to do with the memories made during the artistic endeavor than the final product itself.

Children have such a wonderful ability to let loose, to not worry about consequences. Instead of trying to make the ‘perfect’ picture, my son will fling himself into his ‘artwork’ and produce loads of drawings. He’s happy in the doing; he’s not focused on the endpoint. Unfortunately that leaves me with the endpoint: a thick wad of drawings. Oh, what to do with them?

I like to display some of them around the house. I blu-tack them to the walls and pop them on the fridge. Some of them I date and label (sometimes with a little description of what it is –those surreal pictures can be hard to interpret later) and stick them straight away in the ‘keep’ drawer.

But – and it kind of breaks my heart to say this (though yes, I feel a little silly saying that) – some of these pictures simply get recycled. I know this has to be done. Us parents can’t keep every little scrap of paper our kids have scrawled on. Not everything can be meaningful; not everything can be treasured.

However, I know there will probably come a day when my kids won’t light up at the thought of creating. When they develop a self-consciousness that won’t let them draw with abandon. When they may even embrace Minimalism, and simply refuse to sit down to draw at all (gasp).

So I have a hard time saying, ‘This picture’s not worth keeping,’ when really, for the time they spent working on it, my kids poured their hearts into it. While I’m learning to be a little more ruthless with what I recycle, I think it’s fair to say I haven’t quite mastered the art of letting go.

How do you feel about recycling your kids’ artwork? Do you hold on to most things? How do you store them? We’d love to hear your ideas