Tuesday, October 16, 2007

the contest

When I was six we had a Halloween art contest for the entire first grade. One lucky student would have his/her Halloween-themed poster chosen as the best.

I knew I wouldn't win. Try as I might, I could not color as uniformly as a certain tall, brunette girl (I won't name any names but I think she occasionally visits this blog) who sat near by. It was a marvel, the way that girl could color. Supernatural. And there was this boy who sat across from me who drew these incredible jack-o-lanterns. Every time I glanced up to see that he'd done yet another, I told him most earnestly, "Ben, that looks just like a growned-up did it."

Secure in the thought that one of them would win and thus completely unburdened by pressure, I created my best Halloween picture. On the left side was part of a haunted house with a door and steps. I had seen an illustration like that with only part of the house showing and I quickly realized the comparative ease of only drawing part of a haunted house instead of the whole darn thing. A black cat sat on a step, and there may have been a jack-o-lantern on the step. Bats flew out of the chimney. I did my best bats with their pointy ears and carefully scalloped wings. There was a winding path leading to the doorway with jack-o-lantern lighting the way on either side. There was a picket fence with an owl sitting on it, if I remember right. I actually created a horizon, which surprises me a little for a six-year old. It may have been, in part, another lazy strategy because I knew I wanted to color the entire sky black. So as not to use my entire black crayon and wear myself out coloring around all of those yellow stars, I made the horizon fairly high. I made the full moon enormous, again so that I wouldn't have to color around so many stars. (I resisted valiantly the urge to just scribble black over the stars. Nope. I colored around every one. And they were multitudinous even in the limited night sky space.) There were several trick-or-treaters. One I am sure was wearing a ghost costume, and one may have been a witch. There was a bare, leafless tree off to the right. Or was the owl peering down from one of its bare branches rather than the fence?
But you get the idea. I created the perfect, in my mind, Halloween scene. I worked on it painstakingly. It was my magnum opus of first grade. A week or so later (I imagine, though it seemed like months passed) Mrs. Foss gathered us around shortly before it was time to line up for the bus. She announced the winner of the Halloween poster contest. When my name was announced a shock went through me. Mrs. Foss held up my poster and everyone oohed and ahhed. An enormous grin spread across my face and stayed there so long my face hurt.


Cocoa said...

What a fun memory! Do you still have the picture? You described it so well I just want to see if my mind's picture is close to the real thing.

Calandria said...

Unfortunately, I don't have it. That's why I'm not sure about some of the details.

ave said...

That is awesome. I never won any type of contest that involved skill. I bet the kids are getting psyched for Halloween. Have you ever painted skulls for Day of the Dead? I thought LMx and Lulu might like to do that this year.

Calandria said...

We have not done day of the dead skulls! We mean to do it every year. Maybe this will be the year.

DTV said...

Your picture was so glorious the heavens have reclaimed it. For mortal man is not yet ready for it's splendor.

Mama Ava said...

Loved your story. When Noah was in kindergarden the school has a decorate your pumpkin as a literary character contest. I suggested using our green pumpkin on the vine as Frankenstein. I helped him look up some pictures but he did all the work himself, and boy, did it show. It was completely the work of a very enthusiastic 6 year old boy.

When we brought it to school, Frank sat on the shelf in the library next to very nice and neat and creative entries. I was inwardly gulping because he was so proud of his work and it clearly did not show the controlling hand of his mother on it, as so many others did.

When he won first prize for his age group, the principal said she liked his best because it was clearly his own work. HOORAY for hands-off school projects!