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Bring Up Ben

Lessons from Art

Olivia Sielaff

(12/09) My younger brother Ben and I are taking art classes from Ms. Rebecca Pearl, and besides learning different techniques and skills, we've realized how much a particular piece of artwork can say about the artist. Bold, dark lines can signify self-confidence, while soft, careful lines signify emotion.

Bright colors convey a sense of happiness or liveliness, while muted colors convey a quiet or calm feeling. Also the way something is drawn offers insight into the artist's mind and character. One artist may look at a landscape and paint a very detailed, realistic scene, while other artists may draw a cartoon-like landscape or paint an abstract picture. All of these aspects can relate to the type of person the artist is and what the interests are of that artist.

By looking at Ben's artwork, it is evident that he loves nature and wildlife. Ever since he was little, Ben's favorite animals have gone from dinosaurs, pandas, fish, and now wildlife, specifically deer. In fact his entire bedroom is a plethora of deer posters, camouflage patterns, and hunting equipment. Not too long ago, however, Ben had taken an interest in drawing and painting his favorite animals. Now animals, especially deer, aren't the easiest subjects to draw. The antlers and body of a deer are complex and detailed, and getting a deer to look like one instead of an unstable, oblong body on four stick legs takes some talent.

Ben produces very realistic drawings, and it is easy to see the talent he has. I remember the first time he started drawing deer and was amazed at how detailed and life-like the pictures were. With more and more practice, he becomes increasingly better at drawing what interests him. Through Ben's artwork it's not only clear to see what he likes, but also to see his character and emotions on the paper.

Like with every artist, Ben's personality comes through in his artwork. At home Ben is a very boisterous and imaginative kid who's always making jokes and acting silly. Other places and times he can be somewhat taciturn and quiet (if you can imagine that of any twelve year old boy). These traits and others can be seen in his artwork through the way he draws his pictures. His use of strong, dark lines shows that he likes attention and isn't afraid to mess up.

Sometimes his drawings contain softer lines and colors that express his emotion and shyness. Also Ben is very organized and likes things to be in their proper place. For example, when he sets his mind to cleaning his room, which is few and far between, Ben can have everything spotless and organized within a day; we usually don't see him the entire day, though, because he's so intent on cleaning!

In his artwork he is also very detail-oriented and tries to make his drawings as realistic as possible. Sometimes he's not the most patient person, but when Ben sits down to draw he is persistent and focused which, in the end, produces excellent drawings.

You might say one reason Ben is quite artistic is because art runs in the family. This may be because of our parent's background in art and design. Our dad always used to draw as a kid and he's now a carpenter, which requires some drawing skills. Our mom loves to paint and she went into graphic design in college. It could also be because we've always had plenty of paintbrushes, drawing pads, and art supplies around the house for whenever we felt like being creative. But for Ben, art isn't something that was just passed-down to him, it's something that he enjoys doing and is good at.

One of the reasons he's so talented at drawing wildlife is not just because of our parent's, but because he's interested in what he draws and is familiar with it. Suppose that I were to write about something that I didn't have an interest in, then the finished product wouldn't be the best nor would I have put extra effort into doing it.

Likewise if Ben were to draw something that he didn't like, then his picture would probably not turn out as good as others and his personality wouldn't be in that drawing. We've learned from art class that if you draw something you love or are attached to, then it will result in a true work of art. This just goes to show that Ben's talent isn't just from our parent's but also from drawing what he loves.

I believe what Ben and I have learned in art class and through our own experience in drawing can be applied to everyday life. When we take the time to observe other's artwork, just like what we do at the end of each art class, we can see the personality, interests, and talents of the artist in their work. Looking at Ben's drawings, anyone could see that he is very detailed in his work and, of course, loves wildlife.

If we want to know someone better, then it's best to take the time to be with them to discover their character and gifts. Also, just like when Ben cleans his room, if we are patient and take our time while doing something, then it will always pay off in the end. Sometimes we find ourselves rushing through a task, but when we slow down and put an effort into it, the end product will be something worthwhile. Finally, we should draw, or rather, do what we love.

I know that Ben would quickly become uninterested and slipshod if he drew something other than what he liked. The same goes for anything else. If our heart isn't in what we do, than it's not going to turn out completely right and we probably won't be satisfied with our work.

I certainly have discovered many traits about Ben just by looking at his artwork. But not only can artwork say a lot about the artist, it can also teach the artist about himself and others. To Ben, drawing probably just seems like a fun hobby, but I hope that he understands all the important lessons he can learn from one of his favorite pastimes.

Read other articles by Olivia Sielaff