Saturday, March 5, 2011

Family Portraits

My wife is very good at engaging my sons in creative activities. She has a knack for encouraging them to pick up crayons, markers and assorted crafts and make something spur of the moment together. Often, she presents a challenge to us all and we suddenly dive into our four independent projects, peeking over one another's shoulders, laughing and talking as we work.

Yesterday, she brought my sons and I before the giant, newly blank, dry erase board in our office and instructed us to draw a family portrait.

The smell of dry erase markers hung heavy in the air as we all bent and reached around one another to fill in our own little space of the pure white nothingness with a picture of the four of us together. Simultaneously, something came over

Now, if you haven't witnessed here already, you are about to witness, that I am not the best artist. In fact, my best work is done when I draw quickly, by impression and add small details to ensure you know what it is I just tried to draw.

While my skills did not increase suddenly during this particular exercise, my intensity did. I was completely immersed in what I was scribbling for a few minutes. So much so that I didn't notice the drawing of us playing in front of our house my eight-year-old made, the family football game my six-year-old drew, or the space adventure complete with rocket my wife had drawn. I didn't see one of them until I had finished this:

It was fun for me to draw, and my sons' and wife's reactions made me feel as if I had just painted something on the ceiling of an old, ornate church. I was immediately commissioned to create another, theme-specific family portrait. this time I allowed my sons to pick their characters ahead of time and for another few minutes I saw nothing by the dry erase board in front of me until I produced this:

My family was pleased. So was I, for awhile, but then it started to bother me that my sons had been drawn as mine and my wife's adversaries. Did I really think my six-year-old was the type to lead me right into the hands of the Empire so he could encase me in carbonite and collect my bounty? Was my eight-year-old willing to try and turn his own kin over to the dark Side or destroy them? Could he be that obsessed with power? I struggled with these issues for a while.

Then I got over them and enjoyed the pictures. That is, until I realized I had left out the rocket pack on my youngest son's back. I suppose the artist is always most critical of his own work.

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