Saturday, April 9, 2011
What do you see here?
Let me tell you a story.
When I was teaching a few years ago, there was this 5 year old boy in my class who could spend the entire day at the art table. He LOVED to create.
I remember one of my professors in university reminding us students over and over again that artwork with children is about the process, not the product.
And for this boy, that was certainly the case, as his finished products were no rembrant replicas. Yet, he would mold, or paint or draw, or glue all day long, with determination, passion, and enthusiasm.
Then came a day, about half way through the year. It began as any other, the moment he stepped into the classroom, he headed straight for the art table and planted himself infront of the colored charcoals, paints and blank papers.
But instead of diving in to all the colors, he just sat, with his hands clasped together in his lap, staring intently at the blank page before him. He stayed like this for 5 straight minutes without making a move. I did think to encourage him to chose an art medium to work with, but felt oddly, like I would be interrupting something...something strangely holy.
That's when he looked up at the charcoals, and made a calculated choice to begin with the red.
I shook my head, thinking it was a bizarre beginning to the day, but moved on to another area, and let him be.
It wasn't until his artwork was half done, when I checked on him again. What I saw on that paper absolutely took my breath away. He had used every color in that charcoal case, and was purposefully and carefully mapping out the most beautiful underwater scene. With a blue, grey and white whale taking center stage, surrounded by a school of bright yellow and red tiny fish, complete with several shades of green seaweed and brown and tan rocks for an ocean floor.
I was already wondering in my head if it would photocopy well, because I wanted a copy of this for MY home. It touched my heart in a way that no child's artwork had up to that point. It drew me in, and made me feel somehow safe, and excited and free of worldly cares.
If you have ever found yourself completely lost in a piece of music or in a stunning piece of architecture, then you know what I am talking about.
I was very much anticipating his completion of this masterpiece.
I walked away from the table again, and began preparing my group time stories, music, and flannel pieces. Once I was finished, I rang the bell for clean up, and like a giddy little child myself, headed back to the art table to behold the finished creation of this 5 year old boy.
When I saw what was on the paper in front of him, I was confused. It was not at all what I had seen before. All that was on it was blue. I looked around the table, on the floor, on the art wall, to see where the divine portrait of the sea had gone, but to no avail. It was nowhere. I asked him, with what must have sounded like a desperate plea, "Where is the beautiful ocean you were working so hard on, Colton?"
That's when he looked at me, with a confused expression on his face, then looked down at his blue page in front of him, changed his expression to an enormously proud grin, and said, "Well, it's right here Mrs.Campbell." Then continued with a whisper, like he was sharing a very juicy secret, "But you can't see the fish, because they are all under the water."
I kid you not when I tell you that a tear brimmed up in my eye as I realized that the majestic picture I had seen earlier was now fully covered in blue charcoal. No one would ever know what that boy made, except for me, and him.
I hung his blue square up on the art wall to take home at the end of class.
When his mother arrived, she collected his jacket and backpack, and went to the art wall, knowing her son would have something to take home, as he did every day. As I was walking over to her to share this amazing story of what was hidden undreneath, she caught my eye as she was taking down the blue square and winked as she mouthed to me, "File it!" Which of course meant she was going to throw it out once her son was not looking because obviously it was nothing special and her home was already brimming over with artwork.
She did "file" the blue square.
And when all the students had gone, I took it out, and took it home.
I still have the blue square.
It is THE most precious piece of art in my house.
This story is to go along with the thoughts of Day 5.
WE are God's artwork. HIS masterpiece. We've been created with these amazing colors and shapes and lines and shades. Within each of us lays such beauty and truly divine and unique properties.
Yet so often...when we look at each other... talk to each other... work with each other...
...all we see is a plain piece of blue paper.
I'm challenging you.
To look beyond the blue, and to see the hues, the shades, the brilliant colors that make us all the most marvelous pieces of artwork.