I still remember the sun shining through the lone window in the cavernous art room of my Grade K-6 school on that day decades ago. It was the day a young me learned a valuable life lesson about art.
Three rows of tables ran the length of room with student-filled chairs lining either side.
I sat at the end of the middle row on the left side on this particular day; a decade before I would meet my now artist wife — who, by the way, makes this art stuff look easy.
My teacher walked up and down the aisles watching over our shoulders as we worked on our drawings.
We were meticulously scratching lead from our pencil tips onto the paper, feverishly working our erasers down to the nubbin, and then creatively filling the spaces between the lines with our Laurentien pencil crayons.
A few minutes earlier, my teacher had demonstrated techniques to draw whatever popped into our heads.
Now, as she passed by each student, she was offering words of encouragement and praise.
“Isn’t that just the cutest little kitty cat, Amanda,” she said. “Look at yours, Tyler. It’s a wonderful, neon blue Tyrannosaurus rex driving a Volkswagen.”
To this day, I’m not sure how that was possible. The arms on those things were scrawny; not sure they could reach the steering wheel.
Nonetheless, recess was next. And I couldn’t wait to get outside to play soccer with my friends. Hockey and baseball had long since been banned on the playground. Now, every recess I spent time being Wayne Gretzky scoring the Stanley Cup winning goal… with a soccer ball. Not sure how this was possible either.
As dreams of sporting grandeur ran through my mind, I looked up from my drawing. The minute hand on the clock above the dust-covered blackboard was moving backwards, or so I thought.
I put my head back down and returned my attention to the tip of my pencil as it made another circular line on the paper.
At this point, the teacher walked past me. She paused. And stood there.
And stood there.
I dared not look up.
I continued to unveil my creation one pencil stroke at a time with the teacher hovering over me while I tried to apply the lessons she had just taught us.
Finally, it dawned on her what she was looking at.
“A plate of spaghetti and meatballs!” she exclaimed. “It looks delicious. I could dig in right now with my fork.”
I sat there looking up at the straight, brown hair on the back of her head as she moved along.
To this day, I still don’t know what I drew. Let’s call it “abstract art.” But if she saw spaghetti and meatballs, so be it. It was almost recess and I was done with art class.
Yet, as reflect on that day, I had learned a valuable life lesson from my teacher: Art is in the eye of the beholder, and everyone will have their own interpretation.
It’s a lesson that has served me well for the last 14 years being married to an artist.
It’s also a lesson that led me to wonder what Tyler had really drawn. T-rex driving a car? Yeah, right.