“I knew it!” Penny’s frustrated cry echoed throughout the house.
Oh, Lord, not again! I sent a quick prayer heavenward before hurrying to lend feeble encouragement to my teenage daughter.
“What’s wrong, Penny?”
She turned to me, tears in her eyes.
“See!” She held up a ring of hardened clay coils in one hand and jabbed an angry finger at an oval base with broken coils around its perimeter. “I’m not an artist.”
“But, sweetheart, it looks like you were on the right track.”
She gave me one of those ‘Are you blind, Mom?’ glares and heaved a sigh. “It’s supposed to be a clay pot. I tried really hard. But I just can’t do art.”
She set the gray coiled ring on the kitchen counter beside its base and crossed her arms. “I give up.”
“You can’t give up. Art is a required course. You have to keep trying.”
“My sisters can make things look like they’re supposed to. What do I do? A five-year-old can draw better than me. And do I have to remind you about the fresco?”
I shuddered. ‘The fresco’ was one of the first art projects Penny attempted this year. She was allowed to choose between painting a picture on paper or creating a fresco. She insisted upon the fresco.
We bought a pail of plaster of Paris, and waited for a day when Penny’s father could oversee the art lesson.
My husband and daughter worked so well together measuring the plaster powder and stirring in the water. They seemed to be enjoying themselves. At least they were until Penny attempted to scrape the mixture into the aluminum pie pan mold.
“Now smooth it out,” my husband instructed.
“I’m trying, Dad. It’s hardening already.”
“It’s no use. It’s hardened.” What should have been a smooth, slightly moist surface was dry and lumpy.
“Plaster is difficult stuff to work with,” my husband commented. “We’ll throw this away and try again.”
“No, Dad,” Penny said with a frown. “I’ll paint a picture instead.”
In another art project she was to create a landscape in oil pastels. She sketched a field with apple trees and a beaming sun.
“Good start.” I nodded my approval.
Her sister, five years younger, was scheduled to experiment with creating the illusion of space in a landscape. Both girls worked for about thirty minutes before showing their art projects to me.
Penny glanced at Theresa’s finished watercolor, then at her own pastel painting, and threw up her hands in anguish.
Penny’s field had become a strip of black, a color intended to cover some accidental paint drips. Two dark brown triangles crowned with bright green circles huddled in it. Rectangular bars radiated outward from a yellow ball which floated in a cobalt blue sky like a runaway parade balloon.
Theresa’s painting showed five snow-capped mountains overlapping and receding into the distance. A forest of pine and deciduous trees crouched at the base of the nearest mountain and the sky was illuminated with an orange sunset.
“Your sketch was pretty good,” I offered. Penny shook her head in disgust.
“It’s garbage, Mom, and you know it.” We both sighed.
And now, with the latest failed art project, I had run out of words to say.
From the living room, the computer signaled Penny that someone had signed into her instant messaging site.
“Take a break, Penny, and come back to this later.” As she ran to answer her friend’s message, I lifted a silent prayer to the Lord.
Please help me encourage my daughter in some way.
Penny’s urgent voice interrupted my prayer. She stood at the doorway, concern etched on her face. “Mom, it was Danielle. She’s having trouble at home again and feels like cutting. I’m going to have to talk to her awhile. Can I redo my clay pot tomorrow?”
I remembered Danielle, one of several Bible camp teens with serious family problems whom Penny befriended last summer. Lord, is this Your answer?
“Yes, you may. But before you go, I want you to know how proud I am of you.”
Her eyebrows raised in wonder.
“I’m proud that I have a daughter that cares so much about others. You may never be a great artist but you are a terrific encourager. And that is a rare talent in this world.”
With a sudden smile, Penny hugged me and hurried to share the Lord’s love with her friend.
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