Jack Reid was running out of time. Christmas break was almost over and he did not have an idea for his art project. Instead, he wanted to enjoy his holidays and not work like a dog. It was not fair.
The house was quiet as he walked into the kitchen, looking for leftovers. Voices from the den indicated that the family was watching the news. How boring, Jack thought. He ate an apple and made himself a sandwich. When he entered the den, his family was standing in a circle, holding hands and praying. He put down his sandwich and joined the circle. When they finished praying, his dad turned up the volume on the TV. Jack saw reports of a horrible storm that hit the Pacific Ocean, causing death and destruction in the thousands.
Jack stared at the TV set, feeling as if he was completely out of touch with the world. This was his senior year and his mind was filled with thoughts of graduation, college, and girls. Now after seeing so much devastation, he was very shaken by it. He felt inspired to draw something. He took the napkin underneath his sandwich and started sketching. He focused on his drawing while listening to reports on the victims and survivors. He heard people talk about hope. That out of tragedy comes hope and this is when people grasp onto hope like a lifeboat. Jack moved his work onto a piece of canvas as his family stood around him in fascination and watched him draw.
The long-forgotten sandwich was placed in the fridge as Jack passionately worked all night. For the next two days, Jack devoted himself to his new project. School would be starting again after the weekend and he had to get the project finished in time.
On Monday morning, the students arrived early to set up their paintings for critiques. Mrs. Evans and the principal entered the classroom and stood in front of the class. Mrs. Evans announced that all paintings would be on display at school for the entire week and the top five paintings would qualify to be entered into the State-Wide Art Exhibition.
Mrs. Evans and Dr. Lang walked around the classroom to observe each student’s work. Finally, it was Jack’s turn. When Mrs. Evans saw the painting, she smiled proudly at Jack. However, her smile fell quickly when Dr. Lang whispered into her ear. She looked toward the floor and nodded grimly as they moved on.
After class, Mrs. Lang informed Jack that even though she thought that his painting was breathtaking, it would not qualify for the art exhibition. However, he would be allowed to submit a substitute piece. Jack was heartbroken but instead of dwelling on the rejection, he remembered that he had another painting that he could use for a substitute.
The next morning, Jack carried the second painting to school. It was a striking portrait of his mother that he created for her a month earlier. At first, his mom wouldn’t let the painting leave the house until Jack explained the circumstances. She was disappointed that his first piece was rejected and let Jack take her painting as a replacement.
Jack entered the empty classroom and placed his artwork on the easel when Mrs. Evans entered the room. She walked over to him and pulled a business card from her purse. “Jack, I want you to talk to a friend of mine who owns an art gallery downtown. You have a special talent. Give him a call and show him that first painting. I loved it.” She smiled as she held the card out to him.
A few years later, Jack is now the owner of his own art studio thanks to Mrs. Evans’ positive encouragement. His favorite painting, In the Midst, hangs today in the foyer of the popular “Jack Reilly Art Gallery.” This painting was the first piece that he ever painted for the public.
In the Midst is a large 24" x 24" oil painting filled with vibrant color. The background is a wall of cobalt blue as a storm rages across the ocean toward a small island. In the center of the painting is a group of young children, standing in a circle, heads bowed, and holding hands as if in prayer.
This was the same painting that was originally rejected by his high school art class.
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