Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Coloring beyond the lines

My 90-year-old grandmother, who majored in art at Ohio Wesleyan some 70 years ago, once told me that she never gave a coloring book to my mother and my two aunts. She wanted them to draw from their imagination. (Now one of her daughters is a prolific painter and the other two both make hobbies of arts and crafts).

In general I keep coloring books hidden away in a closet and hand Will blank paper instead. And yes, some people might say, that his little creations like this

are nothing but colorful scribbling. But he’ll tell you differently as he describes sea creatures and identifies their body parts on the paper. In case you can’t decipher Will’s drawing, here’s some of his commentary that I jotted down as he drew: “This is a submarine with a baby fish that you can just bring inside… This is how the big fish is dying. He has to go up out of the water and breathe and when it breathes it has to go back under water and when it goes back under water for a long time it dies and little bugs start eating it.” He also told me that the picture contains a sea animal that is bigger than a whale, can hold its breath under water even longer than a whale and can eat even more than a whale -- until he gets a tummy ache.

Last month as Will and I watercolored birthday cards for Rob while we were at Hunting Island, I took the cowardly not-a-real-artist approach and painted a boring lighthouse scene straight off a throw pillow in the cabin there, while Will created this masterpiece:

There I was, 30 years older, and wishing I could present Will’s card as my own. Next time we sit down to paint I’m going to force myself to draw from my head and see what ghastly creation I come up with as I scribble-paint like an inspired kid again.

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