I am finding the oak tree to be very illusive. It is such an icon of strength and steadfastness that drawing it is like trying to draw a feeling or a dream. It is like a child that changes day to day with the currents of their lives.
I imagine a musher when he or she finally decides, “I’m going to do it!” She sees the Iditarod as so many things at once. Where do you start? What do you master first? Or can you even approach it that way? Isn’t it a truly magnificent whole and isn’t that why you want to do it? It is the feeling, the dream of the oak tree that takes one hundred years to become what it is.
I start by looking at it, trying to really see it. And I look at it again and again, each time trying to see something that I didn’t notice before. Then I do it again.
I have an Art student this year that took the class, because he thought it would be an easy A, not because he thought he would draw, no background whatsoever and no belief he could do anything at all. We started with a circle, just a circle, trying to makeit as perfect as possible and I employed Mrs. Van Zyle’s approach – that’s good, “do it again.” I have included here the product of three weeks of circles. If only my oak tree would improve this way. But practice makes perfect and I have patience.
And I always start with the trunk, because that is what everything depends upon. A musher’s trunk is his team and the relationship they share. If each member doesn’t look at every other member with the same trust, everything will fall down.
As teachers we know that before the paper and books and rulers and chalk there is the relationship of mutual trust that must be born between teacher and student, and student and teacher. It is that intangible thing that holds everything together. It is the reason I look at the oak tree again and again, more carefully each time. It is the reason we study those faces each morning.
The valley I live in is literally full of oak trees and there are days I don’t see even one. Those are bad days – the days that never quite get off the ground. So make a promise to me, yourselves and your students to have no more bad days and I will take another look at that oak tree out back.
With Rookie as my Guide,