There Are No Mistakes in Art
Author's Note: Hello, everyone! I'm back! :) Sorry I've been gone for so long - but at long last, I have a new story! My friend Wogglebuglover held a storywriting contest on her new website, and this was my submission! :) It's about Mr. Wogglebug, a character from the Oz books, helping a little girl feel more confident in her artisitic abilities. I hope you enjoy it! :)
I'd also like to give special thanks to my friend Wogglebuglover, for all her encouragement! :)
"All right, children, let's all settle down now, and I'll tell you about the art project we're going to start working on today," Mrs. Phyllis said to her first grade art students. As she spoke, she clapped her hands together just loudly enough to command the class's attention. The children respected the authority of the clapping and all took their seats at the two round tables in the center of the room.
Once the students were settled in their seats, they all leaned forward eagerly, waiting to hear of their next assignment. Miss Phyllis's assignments were usually related to a specific theme. For Pet Day, Mrs. Phyllis had encouraged each student to draw a colorful, imaginative picture of their ideal pet (the more imaginative, the better) and for Open House night, the students had drawn self –portraits and had written short descriptions of themselves below their artwork. The first graders always enjoyed the creative projects that Mrs. Phyllis assigned.
The only student not showing any outward sign of eagerness was a little girl named Erica. Erica was six and a half years old and was quite timid. Moreover, Erica was a perfectionist. She was always very concerned about doing everything "just right." When she did her math worksheets, she would always erase the numbers she wrote down until the threes had no curlicues in their middles and the fives no longer looked like S's, she would avoid joining in games at recess because "I might do something wrong, and everyone will be mad and say I can't play," and even when the class had their bathroom break, she was always painstakingly careful not to use too much toilet paper, "or else the toilet will clog and the water will go everywhere and make a mess."
So, when Miss Phyllis announced that their assignment for that day was to construct a collage of all the things that they liked about the fall season, Erica just slumped in her seat while her classmates began setting up a dull roar of excited whispers. How was she supposed to make a collage? She had never made one before; what if she got it all wrong? What if the things she liked about fall weren't the same as what everyone else liked?
As Miss Phyllis passed around the magazines that the students were going to use for their collage cutouts, she noticed Erica's distress. She knew that Erica had difficulty with making mistakes and perfectionism, so she knelt down next to Erica and told her quietly, "There's no right or wrong for this, dear….just think of what you like most about fall, and put it in your collage." She smiled. "Do you like Halloween? You could put that in your collage."
After about ten minutes of steady work, Erica had found a small handful of cutouts that she supposed would fit well in her collage – some candy corn, a plate of Jack O' Lantern cookies, and some red, yellow, and orange fall leaves. One thing she especially wanted to find was a cutout of Princess Tiana from her favorite Disney movie. She was going trick – or – treating as the character for Halloween. The trouble was, she could not find any pictures of Princess Tiana in any of the magazines she looked through, and she told Miss Phyllis this.
"Oh, that's all right, dear, you can always draw a picture of you in your Princess Tiana dress." Miss Phyllis reassured her.
"You can't put Princess Tiana in your collage," a boy named Mitchell chided Erica. "Princesses don't have anything to do with fall."
"They do if she's dressing up as one for Halloween," Miss Phyllis said to him sternly. "Now keep your eyes on your own work."
"But I don't know if I can draw myself in my princess dress," Erica told Miss Phyllis. "I've never done it before. What if I do it all wrong and no one knows what I'm supposed to be?"
At that moment, a chime sounded over the PA system in the Art Room, causing Erica to clap her hands over her ears. Not only did she not like to make mistakes, she also did not like sudden loud noises.
"Time for Outside Play, everyone," Miss Phyllis announced to her students. "Those of you who need to continue work on your collages may do so when we come back inside."
Erica put on her pink, puffy Minnie Mouse Jacket and her boots and slowly walked outside. She walked over to a quiet area and sat under a tree, where she could think about her problem.
Erica thought she was alone in her thoughts, but suddenly, she heard a kind, friendly, somewhat squeaky voice saying, "Hello; what, may I ask, are you doing over here all by yourself?"
Erica gave a small squeal, jumped, and turned around to see what looked like a very large, light green bug wearing a vivid purple suit with a matching top hat. The bug looked to be about six feet tall (as big as her father) and had antennae, a long, pointed nose, and a friendly expression on his face as he looked down at her.
"Hello," Erica said as she stood up and offered the bug her hand. "My name is Erica, and I just turned six. What's your name?"
"I am H.M. Wogglebug, T.E., my dear," he said, taking off his hat and making a bow. "H.M. means that I am Highly Magnified, which is why I appear so much larger than other members of my species, and T.E. means that I am Thoroughly Educated. It is a pleasure to meet you."
Erica smiled. "It's nice to meet you too, Mr. Wogglebug."
"Now, as I was saying earlier, what are you doing over here all by yourself, my dear?" Mr. Wogglebug asked Erica. "Why aren't you over there playing with your friends?"
"Because I have things I need to think about, and I can't do that while I'm playing," Erica explained.
"Yes," Erica replied. "We're making these things called "collages" in my art class about things that remind us of fall, and I want to put a picture of a princess in mine, since I'm going to be a Princess for Halloween."
"Oh, that sounds like a marvelous idea!" Mr. Wogglebug exclaimed. "I actually know a real princess myself….her name is Dorothy and she's actually not much older than you. But I say, what exactly is this "Halloween?"
"It's a night when you dress up in a costume, and you go up to houses and ring peoples' doorbells, say, "Trick or Treat!" and then they give you candy."
"Oh my, that does sound interesting!" Mr. Wogglebug said.
"But you see, I couldn't find any pictures of the princess I want to dress up as in any of the magazines," Erica explained. "Miss Phyllis told me I could draw myself in my princess dress in my collage, but I'm scared I might do it all wrong."
"Hmmmm," Mr. Wogglebug said, and looked thoughtful. "Did you want to draw yourself as any particular kind of princess?"
"I want to be Princess Tiana from The Princess and the Frog," Erica replied.
"Well, I'm afraid I don't really know who that is," the Wogglebug said. "But what I do know is that when your goal is to be as creative and show everyone something they've never seen before, it's almost impossible to make any mistakes."
"It is? Really?" Erica asked, brightening.
"Yes, really," the Wogglebug answered reassuringly. "And if something happens that could be called a mistake, it's only part of the process of refining your work till it's perfect!"
Alyssa looked confused. "I'm afraid I don't understand."
"What I am trying to say, my dear, is that even if your drawings don't turn out the way you hoped they would the first time, the important thing is that at least you tried. I'm sure your classmates will still know who you are supposed to be dressed up as in your drawing even if there are a few details missing," the Wogglebug explained with twinkling eyes.
"Oh…I never thought of that," Erica said, smiling.
"You know, there are lots of very important, intelligent people who sometimes make mistakes," Mr. Wogglebug continued. "Even I have made some mistakes…pretty big ones, too."
"Really?" Erica asked, surprised.
"Of course!" Mr. Wogglebug replied. "I make mistakes, your mother and father probably make mistakes, and even your little friends here at school have probably made mistakes at one point or another. It's just something that happens to all living creatures."
"Wow, so I'm not the only one?" Erica asked.
"Far from it, my dear," Mr. Wogglebug said kindly.
"Well, I guess I don't feel so afraid of making mistakes anymore, now that I know I'm not the only one who makes them," Erica said with a smile.
"I'm glad to hear it!" the Wogglebug said, as he held out his arms to hug her. Erica promptly came over to him and hugged him as well.
Just then, Miss Phyllis announced that it was time to go back inside the classroom. Erica said goodbye to Mr. Wogglebug and went to line up with her classmates.
When everyone was in the classroom and was seated at the Art tables again, Erica returned to her fall collage with renewed enthusiasm. She reached over to a tub of crayons, chose the ones she would need to draw herself in her princess dress (after making sure no one else was using them) and started to draw.
To her pleasant surprise, her drawing came out better than she hoped it would. At least, she was sure that everyone would know who she was supposed to be dressed as if she told everyone first. And then, she suddenly got another idea for what else she could put in her collage…
When Art class was drawing to a close, and everyone had finished their collages, Miss Phyllis asked each student to stand before everyone and explain about the different pictures in their collages. Much to the teacher's surprise, Erica was one of the first students to volunteer.
Before she could even start speaking, however, one little girl pointed to her collage and said, "Cool! Is that you dressed up as Princess Tiana for Halloween?"
"Uh huh, it is," Erica said, beaming with pride.
"And who's that green and purple guy in the middle of it?" a boy asked as he pointed to a drawing of a green bug wearing a purple suit and matching top hat.
"That's my very special friend, Mr. Wogglebug," Erica told them with a smile.
Unknown to Miss Phyllis and the children was the fact that Mr. Wogglebug was watching this happy scene through a classroom window. He was so proud of Erica he thought he'd burst.
"Well, done, my dear," he said softly, before turning away to return home to the Land of Oz.