Tuesday, February 22, 2011

When your child surprises you

 My kids have entered a national art competition. The closing date is this coming Friday.

The eldest is super-confident. She has just turned 11 and sees herself as a very talented, able artist. My boy is 9 and is also very confident in hs abilities, enjoys drawing and painting, but does not see himself as "an artist". My youngest is 6 and sees herself as a non-artist, or did until today. It took all of my powers of persuasion to get her to sit down and do something for the competition.

I finally managed to persuade her to paint a picture yesterday. She sat her tiny stuffed mouse down on its tiny blanket, leant it against a pot with some grape hyacinths in it and positioned two candlesticks on either side. She started drawing and to my utter amazement produced an exquisitely-observed, confidently-traced still life. Then I gave her a palette with the right colours from the Concentrated Water Color range that I mentioned before. She couldn't believe the results - nor could I. My point is not that all my children are geniuses (which naturally they are!) but that given the correct materials, a bit of guidance and a very clear subject, someone who was very daunted by the idea of painting was able to overcome that fear and come out jubilant.

There's a funny ending, though: I fell in love with her beautiful painting and couldn't bear the thought that there was every possibility that were she not highly placed, I would never see the painting again. After all, how could the judges know that this was Rosie Whiskers, and that the plant was a birthday present for my eldest daughter? So first I scanned it, but that still wasn't enough for me. I wanted to frame the original and put it over my bed. I wondered if I could persuade her to do another exactly the same.

Luckily I had some really nice chocolates in the house, so I bribed her. This time she sat the little mouse on a tiny Sylvanians chair. Again, she produced a beautiful painting, and agreed to send the new one to the competition instead. The evidence was now before her very eyes - in spite of her previously-held belief, she was an artist! I think she might have thought that the first attempt might have been just lucky. Here's the funny bit. After all the effort it took to get her to paint something for me, at bedtime she became overcome with emotion and wept bitterly because she wanted to go on painting, there and then, and also complained that she did not have a little painting set of her own. It took AGES and a cup of hot cocoa to persuade her to let it go - in the end my husband cheered her up so I'm not sure what he said.

It just goes to show that all we need is a very bossy person with a box of chocolates standing over us and we'll produce magic.

1 comment:

  1. We´re reading this in Spain and lovin' it! Hurray!

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