My Masterpiece

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I always loved the idea of creating art. My imagination was constantly at work; visions of pictures I could draw, landscapes I could paint and outfits I could design clouded my thoughts until I gave into my own desires, and attempted to recreate images I thought be soon be masterpieces. But, for some strange reason, my creations were never as good as the originals. In fact, they were often so bad that I would give up on my first vision early on and pretend instead that I had intended to create abstract art. My enthusiasm soon fell flat, and I began to ignore the urges I had to give my drawing another chance. It especially discouraged my watching my classmates follow sketching prompts with ease, never needing to ask our art teacher for help. They even seemed to be pleased with their finished products, forcing me to swallow the sarcastic “nice job”’s I usually saved for my own work.

The problem with mankind is that we strive for perfection. “Pretty good” and “next best” are phrases most prefer not to hear. This, sadly, is even present at the Olympics, where the best athletes compete against each other. I watched as United States gymnastic silver medalist McKayla Maroney could not help but scowl at next-best spot on the podium. Her usual performances would have easily earned her gold, had she not fell flat. But fell flat, I literally mean fell flat. She refused to be pleased with anything other than perfection, causing her to think little of her first individual medal.

I, too, strived for perfection in art class, often convincing my art teacher to finish my final drafts for me. I would then sign the piece as my own, without so much as a speck of guilt. If my pieces could not turn out perfectly in one 45-minute period, I had no desire to give them more time.

Seeing my frustration and wanting to help, my art teacher introduced me to pottery. On the wheel, I learned that it was impossible for a piece to turn out perfectly. It takes hours of shaving and smoothing down the sides, which can only take places days after it has air-dried. That was something I tried to keep in mind whenever I made a little mistake while I worked on the wheel. Even the best sculptors, she told me, used practice clay first. Their pots often collapsed, just like mine. But clay can be fixed, no matter how bad the mistake. Pottery taught me to be patient with my medium and myself. I cannot remember a day I was more pleased with something I created with my own hands tan the time I saw my first finished piece. It may not have been perfectly proportional, nor did it stand straight, but it was something I could use, admire, and hold.


I finally saw what my classmates saw in their work. We could make anything we wanted, and it did not have to be perfect. All that matters was that we loved it and were proud of it.

When we started a new project in art class, my enthusiasm to bring my imagination to life had returned. I spent days just working on my rough draft! When it came time to start my final draft, I started doubting myself. What if I make a mess I cannot fix? Determined to create something I could be proud of, I took my time, even erasing mistakes and doing things over. By the time I had started coloring it, classmates at my table told me what I already knew; that it was great. Some of the colors may not have blended well and the concept may have been a little bizarre, but I had something I was proud of. My art teacher proved proud, too; she framed it with construction paper and stapled it to the supply closet where everyone could see it.

My younger brother told me that my man made of books is still hanging. He has also reminded me of how weird it is, but it does not bother me. In my eyes, it is perfection.





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