When I was in Grade One, our teacher, Mrs. Lawrence, would put a piece of paper that was super big (probably only 11×17 but it felt gigantic) on each desk and then she would go around the class with a permanent marker and make a line or a squiggle on everyone’s page. From that single line, we were to use our creativity and our imagination to draw a picture.
I used to stare at that paper forever. All I would see was the line. I’d look over at my creative neighbours with envy. I specifically remember two, and that was a really long time ago. One had drawn a beautiful whale and another kid made a detailed castle. Were those kids more creative than me? Or were they exposed to more? I can’t remember if I made anything but I remember being stumped, frustrated and sad.
The fear is gone
Recently, I found a book called Complete This Drawing at the bookstore and I purchased it for my art classes.
As you can see the pages have some random lines on them and the idea is to complete the images as you like. This book doesn’t scare me. It actually looks like fun. But six year old me would have stressed right out!
I’m grateful I’ve changed and that I enjoy discovering something incredible in a line or a squiggle. I became cool with the idea of just doing the work, whether it was a drawing, painting, or telling a story. At some point, I grew and it no longer stresses me out. I didn’t worry about making something perfect. I’m not a “little one” looking for approval, worried that if I say that cloud looks like a pirate ship I’ll be told that’s foolish.
I need to consider
When I use this in class, some teenagers are going to be stumped, frustrated that they only see the line. And my very empathetic thought is, oh sweetheart, you’re embarking on a journey. These kids get me reflecting on my own journey. How did I stretch my creative muscle? What was my evolution? How much did exposure to visual stuff play in my creative process? Is giving myself permission to just be creative as important as the building of my skills?
I don’t care if others perceive me as dumb or foolish, whacky or crazy. I’m not seeking approval—anymore. A line isn’t just a line. It’s something I can bring to life, whether it’s a score I made with a marker or the opening sentence of a story. It’s the beginning of something wild or maybe it’s nothing at all but I get to choose and that’s pretty special. And, guess what? There’s no wrong answer.
*written in part on April 13th, 2016