Wednesday, May 6, 2009

I dare you to draw

Children’s author Mo Willems (whose titles include "Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus" and "The Pigeon Wants a Puppy" – which I happened to notice won a Children’s Choice Book Award for 2009 ) was on NPR yesterday advocating for more adult drawing.

Willems says drawing a subject evokes empathy in us and that the world could use a little more empathy. And he believes that parents and teachers who draw become models for their children who become inspired to draw too. As I was listening to Willems, I realized that Will’s obsession with drawing (“artist” is his current answer to the “what do you want to be when you grow up?” question) is probably due largely to the fact that Rob quite often takes time to sit down and draw alongside him.

I, on the other hand, generally think I'm too busy and just hand Will paper and crayons (he requests them at least a few times a day) and busy myself with some kitchen task. But this weekend I decided to force myself to draw some flowers for my mom’s mother’s day card as I sat on the deck while the boys played in an inflatable pool. I sketched flowers in crayon from a few different pots and merged them all into one for what was a mediocre drawing at best. Will kept getting out of the pool to check on my progress and offer praise.

And pretty soon both Will and Owen had abandoned the pool to draw. (When Will draws, Owen draws.) Will tackled the same flowers I had been sketching but drew a much more elaborate scene with three pots of flowers and Owen seated on his striped lawn chair. It totally upstaged my drawing and he was planning to make it his mother’s day card for my mom until he realized he couldn’t bear to give it away. (Instead he made a card out of a portrait he’d drawn of her last week while she sat across the table drawing him.)

Here’s another fun drawing Will felt inspired to do after he saw a big profile photo of Obama in last week’s newspaper with the headline “100 Days.” (I swear I didn’t put him up to it.)

So even if you think you lack talent, join your kids at the crayon box tomorrow and tell me how it goes.

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