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Some Kids I Have Known
White Eagle Art Lessons


There was an electricity in the air so strong one could feel the power of it.  The children in the two week art class all at once pulled all they had learned together at this time.  The struggling discipline of going through learning shapes and shading techniques all at once jelled in their minds. It was like they were in perfect unison as much as soldiers marching to cadence. Enough paper couldn't be handed out as they finished one after another drawing. There was exhilaration that seemed to say, “We got it.  We learned. We did it!”  The feeling was so strong I could hardly contain my happiness. I wanted to laugh and to cry at the same time.

The joyful little cartoon characters they were designing themselves were shapes for sure. There was an alien whose balloon was to say, I come in Peace.

“How do you spell peace?”  The little girl had been the most withdrawn but now was working with sparkling eyes while she struggled to design a character like she had, no doubt,  already seen. That didn't matter. She was remembering, recording and wishing to learn to spell. What more could I ask.

To get them out of the building into the world of sunlight and shadow meant that we had to fight the wind while we tried to use scrap fax paper. If the wind caught the paper just right it was like teenagers throwing toilet paper. There was no end to the unfurling of it and the resulting battle to fold it again. There was no blackboard in the building so all work had to be done on a shaky easel which threatened to fall at any moment while we worked on it.

I really couldn't afford the book of Remington and Russell's artwork but swallowed my guilt in buying it as the class was totally, immediately, enamored with the paintings depicting their ancestors. The quotes Russell left were read. Something seemed to click in their minds. What a wonderful legacy this man, Charles Russell,  left to far away descendants of the people he painted. Did this man truly understand the value of  his own contribution.

Most of the time had been with me trying to shout over their noisy chatter but the last day was so quiet we could have heard a pin drop. They worked so intently there just was no time for visiting.

We finished up the class with them having lunch at my house so they could enjoy my small in home gallery. The video of me painting the post office mural was not of such good quality but they intently watched it. The video of the Tallgrass Prairie with the huge, shaggy, buffalo brought right up to the front via the zoom of the camera left them looking around at each other wide eyed. The four minute video on my brother's film aired nationally of Native American Dance was absorbed as if they were a sponge.

What a joyful experience but sad too as we waved good-bye to the children. There was no withdrawn sullen looks now, only bright smiling hopeful faces were there.


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