Some things are best left un-understood!

Sid's smiley
Sid learns to draw a smiley!


My son Sid is artistically challenged. Let me explain. He is all of 9 but cannot draw simple pictures without them looking grotesque. He has had this problem ever since I can remember.

 At first, it was all child’s play. He played with water colours, finger paint and smudged the large sheets of paper with his painting skills. We were proud. Little did we realise at that time, that, his skills would remain that – childlike – for many years to come. Sid never took to colours like other kids did. He loved playing with crayons by breaking them or use the pencils for everything else other than its purpose of existence.

 We never really bothered till the day his teacher invited us to his nursery to look at the portraits children had drawn of themselves. As I marveled the talent of his little friends, I came across a plain white sheet with two lines. When, I turned to the teacher, she explained that it belonged to my son. Sid had taken to drawing a railway track than a picture of himself. I simply didn’t get it. How difficult would it be for a kid to draw a face – I wondered. ‘Ma’ am,’ the teacher began, ‘ your son couldn’t draw a smiley face. No matter what, he stuck to his fascination of drawing this train track’, she finished. When I watched the other pictures in horror, I could only blame my parenting skills.

That evening, I coached Sid to draw a (nearly round ) circle for a head and two dots for the eyes and a line for a mouth. Forget the nose. It proved rather challenging to allign it below the eyes. So, the next day, I requested the teacher to allow Sid to put a face next to the train track. The face didn’t quite look one because the two dots and a dash just travelled everywhere inside the circle.

So began our journey with art. When Sid hit primary education, new challenges crept up. ‘ He refuses to colour‘ his teacher explained. The teacher probably had a class of artists because, the pictures that were put up were impeccable. She then produced a sheet that had a picture of a huge apple that needed some colour. All that it had was a patch of red that faced the north-west direction. Although, I found the spreading of the red colour to the cover the figure rather pointless, I coaxed Sid into filling it up.

As I sat on our dinner table with sheets of colourless outlined pictures so that, Sid could practise his colouring skills, I wondered where I was headed. There was definitely one field of profession, that I could eliminate from the list which re-enforced my thoughts that, I should let Sid just be. However, I couldn’t take in failure. So, I decided to ask Sid to do his best with regards to art. I probably yearned for praise from his teacher but, this time, she called it ‘unrealistic’. She was referring to a colourful dog which contained all the hues in neat order well within the margin. Sid called it ‘rainbow’, that explained all the colours except that you can never find one in reality.

Back home, I couldn’t get over the fact that Sid could be so bad with art. ‘Why would you colour like that?’ I confronted him, ‘ There are no dogs like that’ I blurted. ‘ I know’, Sid said looking non-plussed, ‘but, they do in my imagination’ he finished and barged out to play. There are somethings that are best left un-understood. One of them is probably art. As for Sid, he never improved but I have learnt to do something ever since – to smile at his paintings .





One thought on “Some things are best left un-understood!

  1. I don’t think that colouring in can be equated with “being good at art”. If you want another view on children’s development in painting and drawing I highly recommend looking at the work of Arno Stern in Paris. There is another workshop following the same lines in Bilbao called Diraya. I am not a wishy-washy liberal who believes there is nothing to be taught and learnt in art. However you can block or skew your kid’s creativity if you over-interpret with adult eyes what he is doing and represent to him that colouring up to the line is a bona fide artistic goal.

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