Herald Journal Columns
September 17, 2007, Herald Journal

The purple crayon


Bobby was in the first grade and was very excited about all the fun things they got to do in school.

One day Mr. Hantz, his teacher, told the class to draw an outdoor picture of something liked to do during the summer.

A big smile came to Bobby’s face. Bobby was stirred with emotion as he reached for the purple crayon, and drew a tent.

He liked the outdoors and liked to go camping with his family and friends.

Bobby took his picture, and proudly showed it to his teacher. Mr. Hantz took one look at Bobby’s picture and said that his tent wasn’t realistic enough, that purple was no color for a tent, that purple was a color for people who died.

He told Bobby that his picture wasn’t good enough to hang with the others.

Bobby’s head dropped forward, his shoulders went down. Tears came to both of his eyes and his little heart was crushed.

Bobby slowly walked back to his seat, counting the swish, swish, swish of his baggy corduroy trousers.

Laying his paper on his desk, he took one more look at his picture and mumbled to himself, “My picture is good, and should be hung with the rest of the others.”

Wiping a tear from his cheek, before it landed on his picture, he grabbed, in anger, the black crayon. Nightfall came to his purple tent, in the middle of the afternoon.

In second grade Mr. Ruhue, Bobby’s teacher, said to the class, “I want you to draw a picture of anything you like to do outdoors.” He didn’t care what. Bobby left his paper blank, and the box of crayons remained closed.

His teacher came to his desk and looked at Bobby’s paper. Bobby’s heart was beating fast and he was frozen to his seat and silent.

The teacher touched Bobby’s head with his big hand and in a soft voice said, “It’s a picture of the snowfall. How clean, and white, and beautiful.”

Bobby looked at his teacher in amazement.

Bobby then reached for his purple crayon and in the corner he drew a sun, and put eyes and a big smile on the face of the sun.

The teacher placed both hands over his heart and exclaimed, in joy, to the rest of the classmates, “Bobby’s picture has a sun with a smile on it. How did you know the sun makes people smile? You are a wonderful artist.”

The teacher picked up Bobby’s picture and walked to the classroom door and taped it to the door.

Bobby sat in awe.

The teacher then went to the next student and said, “You are a wonderful artist, too. You drew a pot of flowers, and it’s raining. Look how those flowers are growing.”

The teacher proceeded to tape each picture onto the classroom door, finding something positive to say to each individual artist.

Bobby realized he now liked the art class.

Bobby quickly grabbed another piece of art paper and drew the same picture over again.

He walked up to his teacher’s desk, and lay it plain view of his teacher to see. The teacher returned to his desk after he had all the students’ pictures on the classroom door.

The teacher saw that Bobby had drawn another picture, identical to the one that was hanging on the classroom door.

The teacher then approached Bobby and questioned, “Bobby, will you please take your favorite color crayon and write ‘#2’ in the corner for me?”

Bobby reached to the purple crayon and wrote ‘#2’ in the corner for his teacher.

Bobby, looking up at his teacher, asked, “Teacher why am I writing a ‘#2’ in the corner?”

The teacher then replied, “You are writing a #2 in the corner because that is what professional artists do. Their artwork becomes of value over the years. I now have your ‘#2’ professional drawing and I want to frame it and hang it on my classroom wall for everyone to see. Tomorrow in class we will be learning about the steps to becoming a professional artist. Bobby, your ‘#2’ picture will be my classroom example. Thank you, in advance.”

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