I'm not an artist.
I'm not being modest or anything.
I'm really not an artist.
But in elementary school, everyone was an artist.
Because the teacher said so.
I should probably mention, here, that my painting of a tree looked . . . ahem . . . nothing like a tree.
Oh, it had a trunk.
Or more accurately, a TRUNK.
One large swath of brown paint.
Straight from the bottom of the page to the top.
Then there were leaves.
Okay. Well I thought they were leaves.
My teacher was kind.
She merely smiled, tucked my painting away, and gave me something else to work on.
A lump of clay.
This was more like it!
She handed out more lumps of clay. “Now class,” she said, “I want you to make me a dinosaur!”
Oooh! That would be so much fun!
I tackled my lump of dark grey clay with enthusiasm.
Around me, dinosaurs of all shapes and sizes began to appear.
Looking more and more realistic.
I looked at my clay.
It closely resembled . . . a snake.
I worked some more.
Then looked around again.
Next to me stood a Brontosaurus.
Next to him? Stegosaurus.
I turned back to mine.
But with legs.
I made the legs thicker.
Now I had a snake.
With thicker legs.
I kept at it.
My teacher walked by and nodded encouragingly.
Well it looked encouraging to me.
I thickened the body.
Accidentally pressing down on the back end.
My sculpture sat up.
Yup. Sat up.
Suddenly, it looked like a bear.
I smiled and made a large pot-shaped lump and put it between the four feet.
It really did look like a bear.
My teacher stopped beside my desk.
“Diane, I thought I told you to make a dinosaur.”
“Ummm,” I said.
“That's definitely a bear.”
I looked down at my sculpture and nodded.
“A remarkably good bear.”
The teacher sounded as surprised as I was.
Again, I nodded.
“But you were supposed to make a dinosaur.”
“Do you want me to start over?”I asked, my hand hovering uncertainly over my work of art.
“No!” she said quickly. Then, a little more calmly, “No. You just keep working on that and we'll see.”
I shrugged and bent the legs around the honey pot.
Then I flattened them a bit at the bottom to form paws.
Then I stared at it.
Where had that come from?
My teacher was just as astonished as I was.
She entered my sculpture in the local elementary level art fair.
My family and I moved before I found out how it did.
And definitely before I got my sculpture back.
But I've often wondered.
Both where it came from.
And where it went.