Art Class 101 - Portrait Painting

Art Class 101—Portrait Painting

Carrot Ranch flash fiction challenge - painting

This week at the Carrot Ranch, Charli Mills challenged writers to In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story that involves paint. It can be fresh, peeling or in need of a coat. What is being painted and why? Go where the prompt leads!

For my response to the challenge, I have written a story that begins with an innovation on a true-life story but finishes with something much more common. Potential is not always recognised, even when visible, in children and students. I hope you enjoy it.

Art Class 101—Portrait Painting

The task completed, he took a fresh sheet of paper and sketched the teacher with an enormous warty chin and hair sprouting like an unravelling steel wool pad. He added her name and then, with a flourish, his. He nudged his neighbour whose stifled guffaws drew attention. When the teacher investigated, only the task was visible.

Behind the papers, the portrait remained forgotten at class end. Until discovered by the teacher.

Later, having no satisfactory explanation, he was sentenced to weeks of lunchtimes painting bricks.

Years later, when he was a famous cartoonist, they delighted in telling his story.

Thank you blog post

Thank you for reading. I appreciate your feedback. Please share your thoughts.

40 thoughts on “Art Class 101—Portrait Painting

  1. Prior...

    I liked the overall message – and the setting was felt – I was right there with the students when he added that little signature of his –
    the other thing – ugh – I could feel the painting of the bricks – that is a laborious task and that sentence about the lunchtimes of doing that was strong

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  2. Charli Mills

    I marvel at the potential children exhibit. I don’t get to be around young ones much, but this past weekend my niece and her son visited. He’s one of three “grands” that I have, grand-nephew, that is. He played with all my rocks on display and it amazed me that he actually put them back, understanding my arrangement by type. He got to take several home. I gave him quartz with flecks of garnets and a large raw garnet. He gave me the quartz back and said, “That’s okay. These are little.” He’s a discerning geologist in the making, and that’s what I take away from your flash. Children don’t always have the finesse of their talent, but the astute adult can recognize potential. I like that they could all laugh later.

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    1. Norah Post author

      Your little grand sounds delightful and what a wonderful help. Knowing that he helped Grand Aunt Charli secure her home will, I’m sure, be a treasured memory and story for him throughout his life. It is wonderful for children to feel empowered by making a difference.
      I like the way he treated your rocks with respect. That is a good sign too. He is already realising the order of things and that some objects have importance to others.
      I think it is great when adults see potential in children, as you have in your grand nephew. It’s sad when they don’t, but perfect revenge when they are proved wrong.

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  3. petespringerauthor

    Great story, Norah, but like others, I found the teacher’s reaction sad. Teachers should be opening up opportunities for kids, not shutting them down.

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    1. Norah Post author

      I agree with you, Pete. I guess I based this story on those of so many children who’ve been told by teachers that they’ll never amount to anything and end up proving them wrong. Sadly, the opposite happens far too often.

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    1. Norah Post author

      Thanks, Jacqui. There seems to be an abundance of stories about children who are told they’ll never amount to anything and then go on to make a success of their lives. That’s what I was hoping to show through my fiction.

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    1. Norah Post author

      Thank you, Jennie. Well, the story started with an incident related to me, but it wasn’t really about me. I did draw a caricature of a teacher once. I’m not sure that it was intentional. I think it was probably due to lack of talent. I was devastated when I realised it had been handed to (another) teacher in the back of a book. I’m not sure that it was discovered as I don’t remember ever receiving any punishment.
      Yes, a different teacher would have handled the situation quite differently but I decided to make my story about one of those students who are told they will amount to nothing and then make a success of their lives. I wasn’t so interested in the teacher’s role in this one. I wanted to focus on the child’s potential and future success.

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      1. Jennie

        I was too locked-on to the teacher when I first read the story. Yes, your focus was on the child and the future potential. It’s fun to blend a bit of our past into stories! Thanks, Norah

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    1. Norah Post author

      Thanks, Anne. I didn’t have much sympathy for the teacher either, but as a student I was quite embarrassed when my drawing was discovered. 🙂

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        1. Norah Post author

          Well, I said it began with an innovation on a true story. I did draw a caricature of a teacher once, but I think it was more a result of poor penmanship than talent. I did inadvertently hand it in (to another teacher) in the back of a book and was totally devastated when I realised. But nothing ever happened as a result so far as I recall. So no, I didn’t have to paint bricks. But I did think it was a fun way to start a story. I twisted the end quite a bit. It wouldn’t have been a story otherwise.

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            1. Norah Post author

              Thanks, Anne. I keep thinking of other ways I could have expressed it and tied the story up neater. I struggle with 99 words. Actually with any number of words. 🤣

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