T.O.T.Week: creative outlets (art)

L is a former student of mine. Like many who have come before and after her, I can still picture her toothy grin, her big brown eyes, and the lock of hair she would twirl between her thumb and index finger absent-mindedly as a ten-year-old. L is now a junior high schooler, and aside from that making me feel kind of old, I am never surprised when I see her work in the hallways of the school’s art wing. The roots of her artistic expression were burgeoning when I had her in my classroom.

L is a deeply sensitive, dramatic, complex, and beautiful young soul. The complexities have shifted, understandably, as she’s reached teenage years. Every so often, L stops by my classroom during her free period. Sometimes we talk, but sometimes we don’t. That’s okay too. Earlier this week, I was coming back from a meeting and L was perched outside my door and asked if my room was free. It was, so L sat down and took out her sketchpad. I did some prep around the classroom, and L continued to draw. She draws gorgeous portraits with deep pencil outlines. This one had rich colors and a light touch around the eyes. As the forty-minute period passed, the image that came to light for me was that of a young girl’s shoulders easing, her breath steadying, and her mood shifting. L was in a world that understood her and welcomed her inside. I had simply provided her the space for it to take hold. I hardly consider myself to be an artist, but I can and do appreciate what art does for the soul.

As someone who can identify with the need for a creative outlet (hello, blog…) these four stories can resonate with the artist in all of us.

Niko Draws A Feeling by Bob Raczka and Simone Shin (picture book)

Ivy Aberdeen’s Letter to the World (middle grade novel)

Okay for Now by Gary D. Schmidt (YA book)

Steal Like An Artist by Austin Kleon (adult novel)

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