He was drawing a picture of a sunlit forest. He drew a brown trunk. Then a green lollypop top. When he drew a black circle in the middle of the trunk with the word “hoot” inside, I had to turn away to hide my smile.
The art teacher stood behind my six-year-old son with eyebrows raised, amusement thinly veiled.
He likes to draw, she said to me, with a smile.
What happened next was pure beauty. She knelt down beside him and gently redirected his attention to what he had drawn. She showed him how the trees deeper in the forest looked higher up on the page, how to add horizon to ground them with the others. She showed him how the leafy foliage overlapped to create a beautiful umbrella and how to use light and shadow to create individual leaves.
Do you see this trunk? There is brown in it, but look closer. What other colors do you see? There’s not only brown, is there?
She moved around the table, making similar points for other students. Each time she directed attention to the image being copied. Look, she said, or See.
She was not teaching how to draw. She was teaching how to see.