My over-milked, overly dramatic drawing story

October 18, 2012


You know how when you’re a kid, random stuff really sticks with you? I once heard a speaker at a conference tell us, “Every conversation is important. The stuff you are saying to your kids that you hope they’ll remember? That’s not what they’ll remember.” It’s true – think about a pivotal moment from your childhood and what was said. It was probably not that inspiring speech about saving your pennies for a rainy day. It was probably the first time you heard your saintly grandma swear.

One such moment for me happened when I was…. 7? 8? I don’t know. It’s a story that has served me well in my classroom, since after I tell it, the children are entirely on my side. Here’s how it goes:

“Everyone in my family is an artist. My parents can make art, my brothers can make art, and my sister can make art. One day when I was little, my brother Phil said to me, “Isn’t it funny how we can all draw…. and you can’t?

I will pause for you to imagine my dramatic pause as the children look shocked and say, “That wasn’t nice.” I nod and we all agree that it was not nice. Then I go on with the whole rest of it – about how maybe I can’t draw as well as he can, but I’m doing my best and blah blah blah inspiring stuff blah blah blah. Then when I draw a kitten that looks like a squirrel monkey the children all tell me what a good job I’m doing and my ego is soothed.

So, when I went to Illinois for the conference, this was part of my talk (Title: Stick Figure Awesomeness / Subtitle: Take that, Phil.) – encouraging people to embrace their own art and children’s art and blah blah blah inspiring stuff blah blah blah. I wanted to read the wonderful children’s book the dot by Peter Reynolds, and have images from the book projected behind me on the screen.

The story is about Vashti, a little girl who feels she can’t draw so she just jabs a dot on her paper. Her teacher frames her dot in swirly gold, which inspires her to experiment with making all kinds of dots blah blah blah inspiring stuff that’s actually very inspiring blah blah blah.

I needed permission, so I wrote to Peter Reynolds. I told him my sob story about Phil, and asked if I could use the images.

He wrote back!

Well, he didn't say no!

Thank you, Peter – you and Vashti are my heroes!

(By the way, there is zero chance that Phil is reading this, but just in case – I’m not really mad. That one moment has made for a great story!) By the way, here is a painting that Phil did when he was an infant. See what I was up against? Need I remind you of the squirrel monkey?

That's right - I painted the wall behind that.

About Lauren

Lauren Sommerer is a preschool teacher who likes to build prototypes, grow cats, cook things once, save money, reduce, reuse and recycle.

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8 Responses to “My over-milked, overly dramatic drawing story”

  1. Brad Said on:

    That is a great story, though you underestimate your abilities.

    And I’ve heard many artists agree with Peter about art -- it’s just about doing it. Artists are just regular people who give it a try. Hmm… Maybe I’ll get to work on painting a portrait…


  2. Peggy Said on:

    …he did when he was an infant. HAHA! I laughed out loud!

    And you are a wonderful artist! I can’t tell you how much I enjoy all your drawings! They are so fun & always make me smile!

    Now, how can I find a silver lining to my Mrs. Crow story? The music teacher that told me I couldn’t sing & could not be in the chorus….in 2nd, 3rd, & 4th grade. 🙁


  3. Tammy Said on:

    Lauren -- I love your drawings -- their cuteness makes me laugh and laughing makes me happy. Peggy -- I can’t sing either, but that does not stop me from singing my loudest in the car on my drive home from work. I pretend that if people would hear me, they would be mesmerized by my beautiful voice -- pure fantasy, but it makes me happy.


    • Peggy Said on:

      Hehe…I do the same thing! I also sing in my house using a spoon or brush as a mic. (And don’t tell anyone…but when I come out of a garage, I pretend that the door opening is a curtain going up & I am stepping out onto a stage with thousands of my fans cheering)


      • Lauren Said on:

        Hooray! I vehemently say that no one should make fun of how anyone sings, draws, or laughs. When I was little my brothers were making fun of how some ladies at church were singing, but I came in on the tail end of it and thought they were mocking me: “Lord, may thy body HHHH-AND thy blood….”

        Also, I used to laugh like Bert on Sesame Street. In retrospect, I’m glad they mocked me because I stopped doing it. Mostly.


        • Peggy Said on:

          Oh no…..I have a horrible laugh too! I can only hope that talents are over rated. Otherwise, please pass me a gun.


  4. Phil Said on:

    Amazing the stupid things we say to each other when we’re like …11 and going through sibling rivalry. I don’t even draw or paint anymore. Well, I was asked to do some work for a friend’s school last week, but other that that I just don’t. God may have given me the ability to draw, but he gave YOU much, much more! He gave you perception, something all artists dream of having. He gave you wit. He gave you humor, and he gave you the biggest heart I have ever seen! He gave you a twinkle in your eyes and a sparkle on your smile. In short, he gave you what we all wish we could be. I love you Lauren! Never forget that!



    • Lauren Said on:

      Dang it, Phil! You weren’t supposed to see this! That was very, very sweet of you, and I love you. I really have to thank young little Phil, because he helped me connect with those litte guys. Thanks, Phil From The Past!


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