Paint Schoodic

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Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Of sidekicks and teenagers who sleep in class

He's fifteen... I asked him.

I had the good fortune to have lunch yesterday with two of my former sidekicks, Marilyn Feinberg and Matthew Menzies. A good sidekick is a beautiful thing, and these two are among the best. In some ways, they're polar opposites: she is a middle-aged intellectual; he is a rather rowdy teenage boy. 


I love teen boys' oversized puppy paws.
Matt went straight from our lunch to speak—as a grown-up, second-year RISD student—to Brighton High School’s AP art class. I was pleased but not surprised to hear that he emphasized drawing, for Matt drew in all his classes. In a nutshell, this is why he's such a fine draftsman today, and it's a pity that his school now discourages students from doing so.

This one I know is fifteen. He's mine.
I frequently draw in church, because it helps me to concentrate on the sermon. In recent weeks a group of teenagers has caught my eye—the teenagers who “concentrate with their eyes closed.”

Along with drawing in class, looking as if you’re sleeping is absolutely verboten in high school (evidently, the students are all expected to look as if they’re on a Synchronized Learning Team). In church, however, the congregation isn’t a captive audience, and our preachers work to retain interest, so lounging, drawing, and other out-of-the-ordinary behavior is tolerated.

Really too far away for me to see their faces in detail. 
Having taught Sunday school as well as watched teenagers in church over the course of many years, I’m convinced the kids are actually hearing more than most adults credit them with, since they always seem to perk up when it gets interesting. Anyway, the proof is when teenagers continue to come to church as young adults. That indicates that their teacher was someone who worked to earn their attention and respect. 


Not a child at all, and a totally different setting:
a bailiff at Monroe County Hall of Justice.
But there was something boyish in his oversized solidity.
You might think drawing a sleeping kid would be easier than most surreptitious figure drawing, but these kids actually wiggle as much as their attentive neighbors (another clue that they aren’t really sound asleep). I usually have about five minutes, tops, before my subject moves, and I plan accordingly. No great detail—if I get the gesture and measurement right, I’m happy.

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