To Art Is Freedom

, , , , , | Hopeless | January 15, 2018

(I am giving a high school lecture about Japanese pop culture. It involves drawing manga. At the end of the lecture, the kids are allowed to create their own art. One of the kids is the typical “bad boy”: he’s never picked up a pencil, never interacted, and he’s in trouble all the time. After the lecture, we chat a few times as I try to give him ideas and get him to work. It isn’t particularly effective. When I am next in the front of the class, the boy suddenly comes up to me.)

Boy: “If I want to draw a superhero, is that okay, too?”

Me: “Of course! You can draw whatever you want!”

Boy: “But how would I draw his face, then?”

(I walk to the whiteboard and grab a marker. I actually repeat the whole lesson I have just given about drawing a basic manga-style face.)

Boy: “I can’t draw that.”

Me: “Sure, you can. How about you try it? This is a whiteboard; if it fails, we can just erase it.”

Boy: “Nah, I can’t do that.”

Me: “Then, do what you can. What can you draw?”

Boy: “Well, this…”

(The boy draws a superhero, barely more than a stick-figure.)

Me: “Not bad. How about you try this?”

(The boy follows the tips and keeps on drawing… and drawing… and drawing. Soon, the whole whiteboard is filled. I even remove my own drawings so he has more space. The teacher sees this and walks up. I know she is very open-minded, and she nods approvingly.)

Teacher: “You know what, [Boy]? Take a picture of this and put it in your report.”

Boy: “I’m not done yet.”

Teacher: “Then by all means, go ahead! Don’t forget to put a picture of it in your report, so I can grade it.”

(The boy continues his work and after class, the boy takes a picture of it. When the kids are gone, we evaluate the lecture, and the teacher tells me more about the boy.)

Teacher: “He lives with his father, who thinks art is a waste of time. This might be the first time he has drawn since elementary school.”

(Elementary school would have been two or three years ago for this boy.)

Me: “He does seem to like to draw.”

Teacher: “And this is the first time I have seen him express himself. I don’t care that he didn’t use traditional inking techniques or even manga-style; he drew!”

(At that moment, the boy pops in from the hallway.)

Boy: “You didn’t erase it yet?”

Teacher: “Of course not! I want to enjoy this masterpiece for as long as I can!”

(It was the last lecture I gave at that school, so I don’t know what became of that boy, but this teacher really inspired me. Even now, about five years later, I use the phrase: “Focus on what you can, not what you can’t.”)

Dad Makes Interfering With Art An Art

, , , , , | Related | November 14, 2017

(I’m working on an art project for my friend’s birthday. I have spent two days sketching out everything, and I’m ready to start inking it. It should be mentioned that I have liked art for a long time and have done my own research on how to make a presentable piece. Because I have spent so long sketching my poster, I am scared to start inking the poster, in fear of messing up all my hard work. My dad thinks he has better ideas, and suggests a few as he is walking by:)

Dad: “Just colour it in as-is! Then just add black paint and make it artistic or something.”

Dad: “Just scan it! Then colour it in on your laptop and print it out!”

(We only have an A4 printer and scanner, and we have very little coloured ink left.)

Dad: *as I’m finding a new fine-liner because the one I’m using is running out* “Why are you wasting your time? Just use this pen!” *holds out a dollar store pen that isn’t even black*

(Once I finish inking and start to rub out the lines and colour things in:)

Dad: “Why are you wasting the eraser? It’s fine; STOP RUBBING OUT THE LINES!”

Dad: “Why don’t you just give it to her in black and white?”

Dad: *as I’m doing characters from my friend’s favourite animes on the poster, the eye colour and outfits can’t be changed or they would be unrecognizable* “Eww, why are the eyes blue? Why can’t you make them brown?”

Dad: *snatches pencil and starts stabbing some scrap paper, effectively destroying the pencil* “You need to colour it in like this! Why are you making all of this so light?!”

Dad: *watching me draw a Pokémon* “Why is that so ugly!? Why is there a flower growing out its back?!”

(Thankfully, I was able to finish the poster without my dad destroying the poster.)