“Did you draw those yourself?”

I’ve been looking into some of my limiting beliefs about both my ability to create art and about how we all create art in general. This memory – a mix of good and bad feelings – is prominent enough that I think about it often.

In the 3rd grade I read a book called Dominic, by William Steig. I don’t remember much about it, except that I really, really liked it.  Turns out, it’s a book about a dog who kind of hits the road. That the book resonated so much is interesting in and of itself, considering how my life has taken shape.

We made diorama for the book we were reading.  It was during this process that my dad showed me how I could draw a graph over a drawing and then draw the same graph on another piece of paper and use it to copy the original.  

I drew a bunch of the books’ characters that way and handed in my diorama. I was thrilled that I could replicate the characters in a way that made the diorama look like a pop-up version of the book.

I remember very strongly that the teacher asked, “Did you draw those yourself?”  I remember that she seemed skeptical when I answered yes; like she thought I was lying. I don’t want this to be the story of an evil adult squashing my creativity.  I liked this teacher, and she liked me. Looking back, I assume she was surprised at what I had made because I had probably never made something that looked like that before.  

Why does this memory, of all the moments, stick so strongly in my mind? It’s strong enough that I’ve thought about it many, many times over 35 years. This memory has affected choices I’ve made a beliefs I have about what tools I am “allowed” to use when I create art and how much I can say that a piece of work is mine. That, “Yes, I made this.”

How will this story change now that I’ve brought it out into the light?