A couple of weeks ago, I taught an art class at a local craft store. The class involved step-by-step painting in acrylics on canvas; first I would paint something on my canvas (the sky, the grass, etc.), and each person in the class would paint the same thing on their own. The class consisted of both children and adults.
One student in particular, a fourth or fifth-grader, made quite an impression on me. It wasn’t because of his skill or finished product, but the comments he made throughout the class time. Every so often, I would go around from person to person, look at their work, and see if they needed any help. Every time I came to where he was sitting, he would say, “That’s so beautiful!” Then he would paint something else, and say it again.
His painting didn’t quite follow the one I was doing. I had a bright blue sky; he made his a night sky with yellow dots for starts. Mine had three flowers; his had three flowers of another color and a berry bush. And every time he took a step back to look at it, he would say, “That’s so beautiful!”
A few days later, I told my friend about this student. “Wouldn’t it be neat,” she said, “if we all encouraged ourselves in that way? What if we said, ‘Good job washing those dishes!’ or ‘What a great job you did with the laundry!'” We laughed, but we both agreed — that would certainly change not only the atmosphere in the home, but our attitudes as well.
I’m not sure exactly what the student’s parents did to foster such a sense of accomplishment and appreciation in their son; perhaps it’s just his personality. But one thing’s for sure: he was a joy to teach and have in class. And his painting really was “so beautiful!”