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    The Worst Artist in the World

    November 6, 2006 by Brandy Vencel

    I don’t generally believe it to be a good idea to put the weaknesses of those I love on display. However, the weakness I am revealing this morning is one I believe to be conquerable now that we have discovered the root cause. This post is sort of a combination of attempting to help someone else in a similar situation {please say I’m not alone in this}, and also giving readers an opportunity to offer me any creative advice for this situation. But let’s start at the beginning.

    My son is a terrible artist. We are working our way very slowly through a drawing curriculum, and we chose to do this because not only was our son displaying a definite weakness in the area of artistry, but he was also expressing a lot of frustration over it.

    Though I have seen marked improvements in his abilities, it is still such a struggle for him. In his math workbook last week, a lot of drawing was required, and I had to label everything he drew because there was no way that anyone, including him, would be able to identify the objects later. The level of drawing in this instance was probably comparable to a two-and-a-half year old.

    If there is one thing I have learned from Drawing with Children, it is that as long as the child’s brain is functioning normally, the issue is usually based on how the child is seeing the world, specifically how they look at an object when they attempt to draw it.

    E., I soon learned, looks at objects as if they are under a microscope. He does not see the outside shape and lines, but rather all the tiny details. For instance, he was trying to draw a baby hat. I know how I would draw a baby hat. I would draw a straight line at the bottom with a dome on top to represent the shape. And then I might fill it in with a few little details, if I were so inclined, such as a pattern in the fabric or some of the stiching. E. started with the stitching and the designs in the fabric, and then became so frustrated that he declared he “cannot draw a baby hat.” The picture looks like nothing but circles and lines.

    But I learned so much about him in that instance. I didn’t want to push him too much, but he really wanted to finish his math {the drawings were of light objects and heavy objects}. So I let him try, and simply observed. That day, he spoke aloud as he drew. A baseball he drew was labelled “Official” on its side. E.’s rendering of it is what he could see from his vantage point: a large “OFF” with stitching all around it in a very baseball-like swirl. This is the microscope world I mentioned. The baseball was followed by a basket of books {he drew a detailed version of the handle} and a catalog {he drew the little boy standing on the front, not the shape of the magazine itself}.

    I informed Si what I had learned about our son that evening. We spent time discussing what this pecularity could mean about him and how he sees the world. I was quick to notice E. studying a card shuffling machine as we played Uno with his great-grandma on Friday night. I could tell he had “zoomed in” on the little levers that pushed the cards, and I wondered if he knew what the machine as a whole looked like when he walked away.

    Si tells me he is going to work with E. at the white board and teach him some basic shapes. And I will keep plugging away. It helps that I now know how to coach his vision as we observe the world together.

    Any suggestions?


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