Charlie frowned, throwing a crayon onto the table. He sighed. “I can’t do this,” he complained as his grandpa glanced his way.
“Well, what is it you’re trying to do?” Grandpa took a seat beside the boy.
“Draw a picture out of one of your books.” Charlie pushed the paper toward Grandpa so he could get a good look.
“Hmmmm…What book is that? Pablo Picasso?” Grandpa lfted his coffee cup to curled lips.
Grandpa didn’t answer, but pulled the book toward him, adjusted his glasses and read the title. “Ah…Francisco Goya. Good artist. Did you get this out of my bookcase?”
“Yeah, but look!” Charlie flipped the book open to a marked page and shoved it next to his drawing. “They’re supposed to be the same.”
Grandpa arched his eyebrows and looked from the book to the crayon covered paper Charlie had created. He studied both as Charlie impatiently tapped his fingers against the kitchen table. “Well…” Grandpa took off his glasses and looked at the boy. “You know, Charlie…Mr. Goya didn’t just pick up a paintbrush one day and produce this level of painting. He worked years to develop his talent. He went through years of learning.”
“I know, but I don’t have that kind of time, Grandpa.” Charlie looked from the paper to his grandfather’s face. “I need to do this right now.”
“Cause it’s Gran’s birthday. I want to give her this picture. She’d like it. See how the man is holding the umbrella for the lady? See how pretty her dress is? I think Gran would really like this.”
“It’s a parasol, not an umbrella, and yes, she would like it.”
Grandpa nodded. “That’s the name of the painting. The man is holding it for the lady so she won’t get in the sun.”
“Oh…Well, I still think Gran would like it. I want to make it for her and give it to her tonight.”
Grandpa cleared his throat. “Charlie, as much as Gran would like this picture do you know what she’d like even better?”
Charlie shook his head.
“Well…this is a fine picture if you’re Francisco Goya’s grandmother. And a fine picture to hang in a museum or if you wanted to put a print in your living room. But your grandmother would prefer a picture by you. Something out of your own mind, made by your own hand.”
“I’m not very good, Grandpa.” Charlie whispered, looking around to make sure no one else heard him. “That’s why I have to copy.”
“Do you know what you’re good at that Goya wasn’t?”
Charlie’s eyes widened. “Me?”
The boy shook his head and leaned forward. “No,” he said, breathless at the thought. “What is it?”
Grandpa shrugged. “If you don’t know how am I supposed to know?”
“Grandpa!” Charlie frowned.
“Well, Charlie,” the old man chuckled. “That’s something that you find out by doing different things. Goya discovered he was a painter by painting. Beethoven discovered he was a composer by giving it a try and thinking, ‘Well, that was pretty good’. You can’t just copy other people’s work, either. Just think…if Goya had done that we wouldn’t have ‘The Parasol’, or ‘The Ascent of the Montgolfier’ or any of Goya’s other works.”
“The what of the what?”
“Assent of the Montgolfier. That’s an old fashioned word for hot air balloon. Here…” he flipped over a few pages. “See? A big old hot air balloon just hanging right above the rim of these hills. It’s one of my favorite Goya pieces.”
“I’ll draw that one!”
Grandpa shook his head. “Still won’t be your work.”
“But I really want to draw a good picture! What if I’m bad at it?”
“Then you’ll find out what God made you to do well. Everyone has something.”
Grandpa nodded. “You became a Christian last year, right?”
“Well, then, God has given you gifts that you’re supposed to use to do your part in the Kingdom of God.”
“Like painting?” Charlie got excited.
Grandpa grinned. “Maybe…or maybe not. It’s your job to find out what your gift is and start using it.”
“You think I could do that before dinner tonight?” Charlie didn’t look like he thought he could.
Grandpa laughed again, a deep, loud belly laugh that made Charlie smile.
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