By Bruce Stambaugh
A painting hangs on a wall in my home office where I spend much of my workday. The artistry isn’t one of my mother’s rich landscape watercolors.
The painting is simple in content, perhaps even a bit juvenile in style. That’s why I like it so much. I purchased the watercolor from a former student.
The sixth-grade artist took a common setting and made it exquisite. She had captured perfectly the daily scene in her classroom. A row of colorful books lined the soldier brick windowsill. The black tattered blinds, cords hanging limp, covered the upper third of the old steel framed windows.
I wanted the painting as a memento. I also wanted to encourage her to keep painting. That was a long time ago, and I don’t know if the girl, now a young woman, still paints or not. I hope she does. She had a creative eye.
My middle grandchild does, too. His older brother by two years, and his 2-year old sister also have their own individual flashes of creativity. But Davis is different for sure. He is left-handed after all.
For a 5-year old, he seems to see patterns that others, myself included, look right through or ignore altogether. Davis may have inherited some of his great-grandmother’s artistic ability.
My wife and I visited recently with our daughter and her family in Virginia’s beautiful Shenandoah Valley. During our stay, Davis’ creativeness burst forth on more than one occasion.
He showed me his rock collection, which is housed on the porch of an unused entrance to their home. Davis uses several characteristics to choose his rocks. Size, color, texture, shape, and weight are all his geologic requisites.
I was honored when he asked me to identify a rock he chose to take to preschool to share with the other students. I told him it was granite, and Nana chimed in that countertops are made of granite. This took us to the Internet for pictures of the coarse-grained igneous rock. Davis was fascinated with all the different types and colors.
While playing football with him outside, I pointed out a big puffy cloud floating overhead. Davis informed me that it was a dragon. On second glance, I don’t know how I missed that obvious observation.
The sure sign that we may have a budding Picasso in the family was Davis’ intensity while drawing. He stared at the Wii characters on the television screen as his big brother played a game. Davis turned to his drawing paper over and over again, dedicated to replicate what he saw. He didn’t quit until he was satisfied with what he had sketched.
His siblings, Evan and Maren, draw, too. Evan is a meticulous stay-between-the-lines kind of guy, while little Maren is just honing her abstract expressionism. She sent a sample of her early work back to Ohio with us.
At the park, Davis discovered a shark designed cleverly onto a section of a gigantic wooden play set. Like the dragon, I didn’t see it until Davis pointed it out. The sharp teeth, the menacing eye, the dorsal fins and the fanned tail were all right there. Creative kid that he is, Davis sat down in the pea gravel and began to outline a replica with his index finger.
I marvel at children who can see the extraordinary in the ordinary. I admire it all the more when the children happen to be youngsters I know well, like my grandchildren.