By Shelley Luedtke
A painting and one of her copper etchings hangs in the hallway. Her bedroom walls are adorned with hand-painted inspirational sayings and her closet doors are filled with sketches from top to bottom. Our oldest daughter, Vandana, is quite an artist and though she no longer lives at home I love being surrounded by her art.
Her younger sister, Madalina, would liken art to a good teeth cleaning. It's something you do when, and only when, you absolutely have to. The girl would willingly run miles for soccer and cross country, and she learned to break boards with her hands and feet in Tae Kwon Do, but put a sketching pencil in her hand and she would shut down. She's a lot like me that way--minus the running and board breaking of course.
When the girls were teenagers we were in Disney World and had plans to go to the Animation Academy where guests were tutored by animators in drawing one of the Disney characters. I had come up with a rather clever plan. My husband (who is capable of drawing reasonably well) was going to take Vandana into the studio while I (who has been permanently banned by family and friends from ever playing Pictionary again) would take Madalina to see 'The Incredibles' characters who were posing for pictures and signing autographs. It was a great plan. The point, after all, was to give our artist a unique experience while sparing two of us the humiliation of joining in. It might have worked, however Vandana, upon seeing the length of the line, didn't want everyone waiting on her for something only she wanted to do.
That was eight years ago. This past August we were in Disneyland and I was determined to right a wrong. This time we were all going. No matter what.
As you enter Animation Academy you pick up a large sheet of blank paper attached to a drawing board. We found seats and were introduced to a very personable and funny animator who was going to be our instructor. She told us that with a simple series of shapes we would all create a drawing of Doug from the movie "Up". So step by step we listened to her instructions and watched her drawing come to life on a big screen, while we worked at our drawing boards. At one point my youngest daughter and I made eye contact and just about burst out laughing, but quickly got back to work. Circles. Ovals. LIght markings here. Now darken this line. Now round this out. And on it went.
A few minutes later we were done. I took a quick glance up and down our row. None of the drawings looked alike. Few looked like Doug. But there were big smiles everywhere.
Vandana's was fantastic--as I expected it would be. But what stands out most is how she saw our drawings. She pointed out things like, "Dad, you did the eyes so well. Mom, that nose is so good. Madi, he looks awesome. Good job."
Not long after we were on to the next attraction, but I did take time for a moment of reflection. If there hadn't been a line-up, or if we weren't holding fast passes to a popular ride, I would have gone back in and done another drawing. Me, the little girl who carried around the voice of a grade 3 teacher who said my drawing wasn't good enough to be included in a class presentation. Me, the teenager with friends who were such good artists I felt inferior. Me, the adult woman who avoids volunteering for anything artistic because I feel so deficient. Me, the woman who had so much fun drawing that day I wanted to do it again.
Some of us draw. Or sew. Some garden, fix cars or lead meetings. Sing. Knit. Write computer programs. Teach. Counsel. Develop apps. Run. Plan events. Farm. Design…and on it goes. To be sure we have more abilities in some areas than others, but that doesn't mean we should ever back away, avoid, or not try. What we will miss out on is far too great a risk.
So dig in and enjoy the process. Smile at the outcome--whatever it may be. Time, opportunity and a bit of encouragement could be all it takes to go from dabbling at Doug to aspirational artistry. Now I just have to decide what to try tomorrow. That's my outlook.
By Shelley Luedtke