Thursday, September 22, 2011

what the world is coming to

The ability to creatively express one's self is apparently genetic, at least I hope it is for the sake of my writing career. This is all about my son and how gifted he is in expressing himself artistically. I am pretty sure this creative dynamic he possesses came from my chromosomes and not his mother's. Trust me, when she and I were married I never spent a night where I wasn't covered by some gaudy floral print bedspread or comforter. An eye for color and design she did not have.

Besides being a creative fiction writer of children's picture books and half of a YA novel, I am also a photographer, and I play guitar. My son, on the other hand, is a drawing kind of guy. And all of this came out because he was diagnosed with ADD when he was in second grade.

Being the conscientious single dad I was at the time (I am still pretty conscientious) we embarked upon non-pharmacological therapy with Dr. Brian, a wonderful psychotherapist. After 15 weeks we saw tremendous progress and by the time we completed 50 weeks, an IQ test revealed my son had a genius verbal score.

All that was good and fine as he could concentrate better in school and was less forgetful, but what I saw was so much more. He took on an interest in drawing, not just drawing but creating. He became a much happier child when there was blank paper in front of him and a pencil in his hand. It was amazing to see the things he would use to express himself.

When he was eight years old we attended a local art event sponsored by a hospital. It was called Art in the Barn (called such because the hospital was built on property that contained a working farm and the administration kept the old farm buildings for use by their physical plant staff). He loved looking through all of the artwork on display. He especially loved the kids tent which was filled with easels, paper, and paint, where kids were allowed to paint whatever they wanted.

My son was ecstatic and couldn't wait to create. I watched over his shoulder as he painted a still life landscape. That's right, he set out to create not a stick figure like those around him, instead he made a painting. As his painting developed, he drew a little attention from some parents around us who instructed their children to do what my little boy was doing.

Most of the others lost interest in imitating him or in sitting in the smelly tent and walked away proclaiming they were done, bored, and wanted to go home. My son, on the other hand, was too focused to be uncomfortable, and didn't stop until he covered every square inch of the paper with color.

In the end there was a blue sky with a cloud whose underside was reflecting a pink hued sunset and a large tree with mature deer standing underneath, and a meadow as the backdrop. He had set out not to paint something, but to create a painting and he did great. In fact the painting still hangs over our fireplace.

Now that he is thirteen, I have run out of boxes in which to keep all of his art. I have decided it is time to leave the amateur behind and enroll him in formal painting lessons. Of course, being a teenager, he is refusing. Now I am the first to admit as a parent you need to pick your fights and I think this is one I have to pick, especially after seeing his assignment book today. Here is a picture of a portion of it:

 You may notice writing in purple on the right side of the page. That is from me in response to what I saw drawn on the paper. Here is a closeup.

Plain to see, if not a little small, he dropped an "F" bomb in his assignment book. How incredible to me that he figured out a way to swear that actually engaged me as a viewer. He drew a swear word. Guess what son, you just earned yourself painting classes. I love my boy and that brain of his.

So, back to the genetic thing.... I am pretty sure I have my son's genes as I am never more at peace as when I am writing.