Happy Bloomsday. If you haven’t read Ulysses, you can go read Richard Thompson’s version, you won’t even need the reader’s guide.

More thoughts about teaching art:
One of the kids in our class was an almost disturbingly canny 12 year old. When I sat down with him and looked at his comics, I learned pretty quick that he was onto any hint of false positivity, even though he drew pretty much as well as any of the kids his age. I would say something like, “Hey man, these poses look great! They really capture a lot of energy!” and he would raise his eyebrow and say in a pitying fashion, “You really think these are great? They’re just stick figures.” Most of the other kids – even the older ones – as soon as I sat down next to them, would be thrilled to describe the action happening in their comics blow-by-blow (useful, since it was hard to puzzle out sometimes.) This kid would just sort of embarrassedly mumble that it was only some guys fighting. He had a sketchbook of carefully copied Naruto pictures, but would only draw stick figures of his own creation. He actually drew less and less as the class went on. Eleanor said that in one of her sessions, he said to her, disappointed: “I thought you were going to teach us how to draw cool.”

He might have been one of the smartest and most self-analytical kids I’ve met, and he will never be an artist.

Eleanor and I were talking about what makes some kids into artists and some not, and the concept of early and late bloomers. Almost all kids start out as little sociopaths who live inside their own heads, but at some point most start becoming normal adults with empathic responses and an idea of how they fit into the world. I was definitely a late bloomer, socially – I think I was still running around in the woods shooting lasers at imaginary enemies until early high school. And somehow I kept drawing into adulthood. So I’m speculating, is there some sort of critical hump in late childhood, where most kids would start comparing their drawings to peers (and professionals,) realize they weren’t up to snuff, and drop the whole thing? And late bloomer types, by sort of sailing obliviously over this hump, actually put in the needed hours and hours of drawing time to become good at it?

Hopefully, you do bloom at some point, though. Maybe today, it’s Bloomsday after all.