Painting Jackson Pollack

Posted by mwallach on March 23, 2011 in My Kids, New To You |

Dear That’s Life,

There is snow on my car – again.

Each speaking member of my household came downstairs this morning and, as if on cue, asked how it could be spring and still be snowing. Especially because it was only five days ago that I was wearing a t-shirt and even just yesterday when I sported my sunglasses, the snow seems particularly annoying. I am not interested in hearing the word “accumulation” again for a while and my husband just looked at me and said, “Today is going to be a bad day today.” Man, do I hope he is wrong.

At least, I hope he is wrong for my four year old son. His class has moved on in their study of famous artists and today, dressed in old clothes and all excited for the day ahead, he boarded the bus ready for their newest project. He told me about it last night as I was tucking him in and reading a book.

“Are you studying Jasper Johns this week?” I asked him. “No!” he exclaimed, annoyed that I was not keeping up with the class. “Jackson Pollack.” Listening to my little boy name the different artists he has been introduced to this year does not get old. He can yell the names of famous artists at me all day long for all I care. “I have to wear yucky clothes tomorrow,” he said, “because we’re going to be painting Jackson Pollack.” I knew what he was trying to say, but couldn’t resist from asking what he meant. Clearly having paid attention in school yesterday, he said, “Dribble, splash, splatter.” I smiled – I could not have said it better.

Just to entertain myself and to see how much he had retained, I asked him who Andy Warhol was and what he did. “Pop art,” my son explained. “Repeat, repeat, repeat.” I laughed. He did not understand what I thought was so funny, as he was just sharing what he had learned. “Who have been your favorite artists this year?” I asked him. He paused a minute, but then answered, “Mondrian, Vincent Van Gogh and Leonardo Da Vinci,” as if he had actually been considering his answer and was reviewing in his mind the different artists from which he had to chose. “I like ‘Starry Starry Night,’” he added and for a moment I wondered how many adults would not even know to what he was referring, let alone be able to mention Mondrian as a top three favorite artist. 

The conversation shifted to illustrators and authors – not because I brought it up, but because he did.  “I like Eric Carl and H.A. Rey,” he continued. “I picked ‘Curious George Takes the Train’ to read tonight.” That curious little monkey has always reminded me of my son and I think it’s sweet that if given a choice, he would probably choose one of those as his favorite. It has led me to call him my ‘curious little monkey’ when I tuck him in and remind him that holding on to a large bunch of helium balloons will not take him for a ride across the sky but will, with absolute certainty, get him into trouble. After all, while he can be very sweet, a ‘troubleseeking smart-alleck with the mouth of a 40 year old man’ is the best way to sum up my son.

Logically, I asked him if he wanted to be an artist or an illustrator when he grew up, but he shook his head, ‘no.’ “I want to be the boss,” he said confidently. Now, that’s the son I know.


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