The reasons for this blog: 1. To provide basic author information for students, teachers, librarians, etc. (Please see sidebar) 2. I think out loud a lot as I work through writing projects, and I'm trying to dump most of those thoughts here rather than on my friends.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Messed around yesterday and blew the whole day. However, I did watch Shaolin Monk beat Maori Warrior on Deadliest Warrior (can't wait to see William Wallace vs. Shaka Zulu).

Back into w-f-h today, and decided to do a story about a kid painting. Out of the blue I remembered years ago when I was up at the elementary school once a week helping the first and second grade do art. I wasn't teaching, just being the warm body that led half the class at a time into a side hall so they could paint, because otherwise they wouldn't get to do any art at all.* My job was trying to keep the kids relatively quiet and prevent them from painting each other rather than their papers.

One thing I noticed--it bugged the h*ll out of me--was that some of the girls would all paint the same thing. If one painted a rainbow, then all of them would paint a rainbow. If one did a house, the others would do a house. The rainbows and houses might have differences according to personalities, but week after week the girls were clearly taking their creative cues from one another. I seldom saw the boys doing this. If one of them did take his idea from another boy, he'd make it completely his own in some way. For example, I'd walk past the girls' paintings and see a row of flowery meadows with the same basic composition. Then I'd see two boys painting fighting jets, but one would have a big jet with fiery missiles shooting off off the edge of the paper, and the other would have a fleet of small jets at the top dropping bombs while the bottom of the paper would be covered with fiery explosions.

But anyway, that's not what I was thinking about. What I was thinking about was this one kid I knew who always painted one color all over the page. All the other kids would paint people, animals, buildings, vehicles, designs, whatever--while he would pick one jar of paint, cover his paper with the paint, then go back to class. One week he'd end up with an all red paper, one week it'd be all blue, etc. But what's weird is that now, I guess it's twelve years later, the kid is an actor who likes to make his own films. If you had asked me at the time, I would have said he was well on his way to ending up in a cubicle somewhere.**

I remember I couldn't decide if it was creative or not, in my own head. He wasn't being lazy, because it took a lot of effort to cover every corner of the page. It took some courage, I thought, to have no drive to paint any particular idea, and to carefully show that in painting every week. I'll have to ask him next time I see him what was going on. I have a feeling the answer won't be nearly as interesting to me as thinking back about it.

*This is what standardized testing does to schools--art is something a teacher has to shoehorn in once a week. But only if the teacher has the time and energy to arrange every bit of it themselves, including materials, logistics, scheduling, etc.

**Now that I think about it, it's my kid that's more likely to end up in a cubicle. Not that there's anything wrong with cubicles. Cubicles mean a steady paycheck, and you can't beat that with a stick.

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