What Were They Thinking?
Each year I enjoy describing the life of an artist to groups of elementary school students during their annual Career Day. The kids are always courteous, attentive, and inquisitive. They never disappoint. Last month I had six consecutive 20-minute sessions speaking to groups of 20-25 students from the 5
th and 6
During my brief presentation I emphasize how unique we all are. It is important to find our purpose trying different things while discovering our likes, dislikes, talents, and aptitudes. You won’t find happiness trying to be just like the popular kids. In the words of Oscar Wilde, “Be yourself. Everyone else is already taken.”
Together we fist discuss forms of visual art, media options, education requirements, opportunities, hardship, income, pros, cons, etc. We transition into painting by observing how a tree changes in appearance as it gets further away. I introduce perspective and atmospheric effects by showing examples in my paintings. I tell them, "I feel artists observe our world with greater reflection and appreciation than most people. But the key to success in any occupation is hard work and perseverance."
I conclude the class doing a quick drawing of a house using vanishing points on a horizon. Then, a quick boat sketch. I hear the kids going, “ohhh, and wowww!” Many say thanks as they leave. I usually have handouts for everyone and a couple of the “lucky” kids in each class win one of my Watercolor Pocket Guides. During such a quick first-time meeting it is impossible to know what is really going on in the minds of these children. But the evidence is given to me a week later when I receive a hand-written or typed letter of appreciation from each child. Over the years, I’ve read every letter and saved many. Here is a standout from last month. I typed it just as I received it. As you read it remember … this came from an
Dear Mr. Hudson,
You are one of the most talented artists I have ever seen. You may not be Vincent Van Gough, but you have amazing talent. If someone ever tries to bring you down, don’t listen to them. You have talent don’t let it go to waste.
I try to draw dragons from book covers and other stuff like that, and they come out good. If I tried doing something as talented as you I wouldn’t even be able to get a good looking tree on there. The little lesson of the vanishing point and how you drew the house and boat shocked me so much. I didn’t know someone as talented as you could improvise like that. I unfortunately didn’t win one of your books, but I at least got to see you, an amazing artist at work.
When I was little, I was so into art. I would never say I wanted to be an artist because I didn’t think I was good enough, but I still tried. You taught me one valuable lesson. Art comes from all different shapes in sizes. You talked about how people just splash paint on a canvas and their done. That inspired me to at least try to draw because not everything has to be perfect. It’s all part of the learning process.
I thank you dearly from the bottom of my heart for coming to talk to us for 30 minute segments. I wish we could’ve seen your artistry at work for longer but some people didn’t get to see you at all so that was enough. I hope you continue chasing your dreams and not caring about how others compare your drawings to things. Don’t let the little things hurt you because really, they are all untrue.
Receiving letters like Mia’s confirms the value of my Career Day commitment each year. Perhaps Pablo Picasso said it best ….
“The meaning of life is to find your gift.
The purpose of life is to give it away.”