I took a trip to an utterly alien world today on behalf of my daughter. I took her to the art supply store.
Evangeline is taking weekly art lessons at the Academy of Art of Hoover Point, where she's learning the foundations of art in a classic setting, or something like that. At 5 years old, she's learned to draw with perspective, to use shading, and a few other techniques I don't understand. She's done triptychs, inking, wash pencils and a ton of stuff I never learned until eighth grade in the public school system, if even then.
Today it was time to buy supplies for her third-level drawing class, and I found myself walking up and down the aisles of Pearl, trying to figure out what the heck all these different graphite pencils were for. We had to buy five of them, all with a different number-letter name, and to keep myself amused, I kept wisecracking "2B, or not 2B?" as though it was the funniest joke in the world and there was anything greater than a snowball's chance in Haiti that the girls would get it.
Evangeline, of course, treated the entire trip with the utmost gravity. Normally she complains that she's tired, or that it's too heavy, if I ask her to carry so much as a grape. On Monday, she carried the handcart all around the store, and never complained once when we had to walk all the way back across the store because I was going down the list in order, and didn't realize that we had to buy light tracing paper when I was picking out 80-pound weight acid-free drawing paper.
What was truly impressive to me was when she took it upon herself to educate me about the different kinds of graphite used in pencils, and their different uses. When I wondered out loud why on earth an art student would need a blender, let alone why it would be only ¾ of an inch thick -- thinking of course of the kitchen appliance that we don't have anyway -- Evangeline immediately explained not only what blenders are for (something to do with the edge of a picture), but she told me what they're made of, what they look like, and pointed them out to me on the hook.
At art class, Evangeline continued to work on a liquid graphite drawing of a fish. (I'm not sure how the graphite is liquid, but I guess it's a soft graphite that is made even softer with water. Am I right?) She loves this class, and her teacher has told me that Evangeline is one of the most talented young children she has -- doubly impressive, since Evangeline is also possibly the youngest. I can't help but feel a little amused when I consider that her art classes at school probably involve crayons, scissors and construction paper.
The art academy is great for her, precisely because the instructors expect so much. The higher you set the bar, the more the students'll achieve.