February 10, 2023- The little girl brought her drawing of a Minotaur to me, seeking approval. I told her, in all sincerity, that it was fantastic. Two dozen other drawings of mythological creatures, and the Parthenon, were presented to my appreciative eyes, over the course of the three-hour span. Even the ones I only saw when they were turned in, for the regular teacher to see, on Monday, were truly amazing. Every artist put his/her stamp on the work.
This meant that no two drawings were the same, and as I told one child, who was comparing her work unfavourably with her friend’s drawing, everyone is entitled to create, within their own mental framework and each of us tends to be our own worst critic. Her Achilles was just as good as her friend’s, because each of them was giving the best of themselves.
Days tend to have themes brought into my consciousness. A few hours after coming back to Home Base, I read a post by another friend, also a former student. He bemoaned the tendency of people in his home community to actively discourage those they encounter, at a community event, from doing activities, or ceremonies, in other than a prescribed manner. He pointed out that the primary definition of community is a group of people who support one another. In this vein, attacking, ridiculing or offering destructive criticism, of someone’s efforts is the opposite of community.
None of this means that we ought disregard someone’s own destructive acts. Lovingly preventing someone from carrying out an act of violence against self or others is imperative, if for no other reason than that the best that someone has to offer is off the table, when a negative path is chosen. That is true of perpetrator and victim alike.
It also doesn’t mean that no suggestions for improvement may be made. There is a path for that, offered by ‘Abdu’l-Baha, which validates a person’s opinion or method first, then offers “Have you considered the matter from this perspective?” A non-defensive mind can incorporate suggestions that are even at variance with one’s own set ways of thinking and doing.
In a universe where every word has one and seventy meanings, and there are ” a thousand ways” to do many tasks, isn’t it fair to step back and think of matters from several different perspectives?
Exactly! I’m going to be giving an artist’s talk about my process – which no doubt will be different from other artists’ methods…
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Your piece sits in a place of honour on my bookshelf.
My drawings and paintings were shown by my teacher to show what not to do. Oftentimes, children draw a straight line across the top of their painting to be the sky. As they mature, they see the world differently or in stages. Telling them that they are terrible when making baby-steps or starting out will cause them to feel slighted and not develop skills that will help them to understand their world. If they are raised properly, they will compete with a good attitude and cheer on the winner. Good game, you know? Nice job.
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That teacher is the opposite of my own art teachers, back in the day. I will never tell a person starting out that their work is crap.