My son used to do the most amazingly detailed line drawings. They were so unique and consistent in style I was sure baby boy was destined to surpass me as an artist. All was right with the world. Queue the end title music. (I’d so post a picture here, but teens tend to be a touch picky about parents digging out the 3rd grade art.)
Then something happened in middle school. My once confident artist went from proudly showing me his work to saying he didn’t like to do art anymore. I still have no clue exactly what happened, I can just say there’s been a dry spell of about 4 years now.
Being the considerate (sneaky) artist mom that I am, I’ve used many an opportunity to invite my son to “just hang out” at the studio. Or ask him to “take a look at my fun new art supplies”. Oh, and “hey, if ever you want to paint on a canvas”… I’m proud to say I didn’t resort to offering money, but it might have been a near thing.
Here’s where serendipity popped in…
I took a class at the John C. Campbell Folk school in North Carolina… and we are talking polar opposite coastline here.
One of my roommates showed me this new to me technique of drawing called Zentangle.
The very next day, one of my 7 plain air painting classmates showed us an entire sketchbook filled with these amazing tangles.
After returning home, a Zentangle class became available right in my studio building. But, it didn’t fit into my schedule.
Stepping a little outside my usual roll with the life flow attitude, I emailed the instructor to ask if any other classes might become available.
Her name was Rebecca. The hair on the back of my neck stood up. Although really, I should have figured fate had a hand in this a wee bit sooner, right?
I stepped a little more outside my usual “stay within the lines” approach and asked if kids could take the class too. I slid that request in right casual like. It was a proud moment for me.
Next thing I know we have a private lesson for the whole family set up in our own home.
So the first of two lessons was tonight, and I’m still so stoked I can’t sleep.
Baby boy LOVED it. He even said he might do it instead of video games sometimes. Stay with me while I bask in the glow of parental awesomeness for a moment… before I admit where I was a little blind.
You see, my son has sensory issues. Some things are way too intense for him and others have no effect. That kid can totally pound the Sriracha Sauce to a degree that would leave most of us writhing on the floor. It gets him to eat things he might otherwise find too bland, so I pretend to not be sad about any leftovers I can’t eat.
He doesn’t like color. It bothers him where black and white is soothing. I had not known that before tonight, but it is totally understandable given his sensitivities.
He hates messy art supplies, but pens and pencils are fine. I had known this, but had not realized how absolute this was for him.
The art lesson was private… leaving us free from distractions, and free to ask questions at will. There were no judgements or comparisons made.
There are no “mistakes” in tangling. Something a person on the Autism spectrum can find respite in after negotiating a long day of social interactions.
He can make up his own patterns, so he has control over his art.
He has freedom since there is no one to tell him he’s not following the assignment.
It was perfectly perfect. My son likes art again. All is right with the world.