Sunday, October 31, 2010

The Kingfisher

~ Consult not your fears but your hopes and your dreams. Think not about your frustrations, but about your unfulfilled potential. Concern yourself not with what you tried and failed in, but with what it is still possible for you to do. ~  Pope John XXIII

I love that my kids have an interest in artwork.  As a self taught artist, I know it's important to enjoy the process.  I try to teach this idea to my children.  However, Aren tends to be super inpatient about many things.  He frustrates easily when things are very challenging.  The message I send is do your best.  That everything newly learned takes practice.  It is a mantra in my home "practice makes better".  I don't like saying perfect because, perfection is added pressure.  I want my children to enjoy learning and the process of discovery.

Aren recently learned about the Kingfisher bird.  I think he heard my daughter mention it's her favorite bird.  Aren looks up to his big sister and in many ways, she is a good role model for him.  Jade, my daughter always carries a book or two wherever she goes and so does Aren.  It's a very endearing thing.

This drawing is Aren's first of a Kingfisher from his memory.  I asked him to explain his process to me.  He said, he made the body like a "gun".  I thought that was interesting and clever.  The gun image in his mind helped him although I'm not an advocate for guns of any kind.  I didn't want to squelch his excitement with my sensibility about guns so I told him it was a good approach.  Aren felt very excited about his first effort.

My kids see me when I create art.  I look for images or photograph my own as reference material.  Aren asked me to find a Kingfisher on the Internet so he can create another drawing.   He wanted to make another piece by observation and I fully encourage it.  I did a quick search and found this image:

The following is Aren's impression of the above photo:

There was a time when Aren had a very difficult time making shapes.  Artwork is a combination of different shapes.  When I create art, I focus on the shapes and teach my kids to do the same thing.  The drawing above for Aren is an excellent effort in my opinion.  In fact, for him, I think it's impressive.  Well, Aren didn't agree with me.  He became extremely upset and completely melted down.  He cried and carried on for about 10 minutes that his drawing looked nothing like the photo.  He said, "it's horrible"; "it doesn't look like the picture".  This reaction is typical for Aren when he finds work challenging and out of reach from his point of view.  My heart goes out to him but I try to tell him the efforts he makes are very important and if he doesn't give up, with practice he will improve.

Children with special educational needs often require different tools to learning from kids who are neuro-normal.  The perspective of the child on the spectrum is often unlike the child who doesn't have the disorder.  To this day, my son continues to play with his toys in a repetitive manner, IE lining up his trucks and cars.  Challenges that an average kid might take in stride, is greatly amplified for my son.  I don't want my child to feel defeated.  I want him to have the tools to help him succeed and help him feel good about himself.

At the beginning of the school year, on Aren's composition book, I placed a picture of him standing next to the wax figure of  Kareem Abdul Jabbar with the caption, "Defeat Is Not An Option".  When I put it on his notebook, Aren asked me, "what does defeat mean?"   He couldn't pronounce defeat so I had to help him with it.  I told him it means not to give up; to keep trying; to do your best.

"When someone tells me there is only one way to do things, it always lights a fire under my butt. My instant reaction is, "I'm going to prove you wrong!"  ~ Picabo Street ~


  1. I like the idea of drawing shapes and drawing what you see (from observation).

    Aren's first kingfisher was very colourful.

    It is hard having a picture to look at, so I draw from my imagination.

    Great to see Aren and Jade carrying books together!

    The kingfisher in the picture looked very pontillist. So I would do its head with dots.

  2. Aren wants to do things as well as children who don't have challenges as he does. He also wants to create the art the way he sees me doing it. I try to tell him to enjoy making art and it doesn't need to be "perfect". It's the way he sees things; that's important.


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