Tuesday, November 21, 2006


This story has nothing to do with weight loss, fitness or knitting. So if those are your reasons for coming here, you may be excused. I don't mind.

Last night I was explaining to my beginning drawing students at the prison the theory behind the work we would be doing during our session. A young woman from one of my previous classes knocked on the door and asked if she could show me what she'd drawn that day. She had to go back to her bunk to get it, and while my students were working and she was fetching, I had one of those small, piercing moments of gratitude.
I teach drawing because I want these women to have something to do that takes them out of where they are. Drawing does that for me, although I don't do much of it any more. When I was selling my work though [that's an example above], I would start a project and not come up for air for hours. I think that's a wonderful gift to give the inmates.

From the feedback I've gotten, especially last night, sometimes I succeed.

The woman came back with her well-worn sketchbook and showed me her drawing, a pair of hands [think of the Allstate "good hands" illustration], holding a rosary. There was much more to it than that; the details escape me right now. Her rendering of the hands, the shadows and highlights, the way she blended them into the background, the background itself … she did a great job. She thanked me over and over for teaching her how to draw.

My new students wanted to see her work, which she proudly displayed to them. This is only their second week; so it gave them a new perspective on what they would be able to accomplish after six weeks.

That's the first time in two years anyone has come back to show me something she's drawn on her own. I've quit asking the ones I run into on the compound if they're still drawing. That one sweet visit made up for all of the too-busy and too-tired ones who put their drawing pads in their lockers and never look at them again.

I think I smiled all the way home. Mission accomplished.


Nancy said...

WOW and HALLELUJAH!! And your teaching that class is one of the things to be grateful for in two days. L, N

emma said...

Great post!

FoggyJPinSF said...

Giving and receiving can BOTH be difficult things. How blessed you are, indeed.


Grumpy Chair said...

Lovely, heart warming post.