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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Illustrate the meaning of “Don’t Try to Walk before You Can Crawl” (without using the actual phrase or literal example). (01/17/08)

TITLE: Blank Slate
By hannah anderson


Edward stood before the blank canvas with his brush poised above the palette of color, his hand quivered with anticipation, eager to obey the slightest command of its master and strike the emptiness with a rush of light and movement. But instead, Edward willed it steady and paused to drink in the moment, his moment.

This was the time for him to finally step out of obscurity, to move beyond “nephew to” and “son of,” to, once and for all, break into the limelight due him by his sheer innate ability. This painting would reveal his gifts to the world. Nothing and no one could hold him back now. Glory and fame was his to posses; now was his time to conquer.

Suddenly with a flick of his wrist, he began. At first, small, orderly strokes of azure and cobalt, then larger ones of goldenrod and amber. Soon swaths of viridian and ochre took shape along with them, and Edward released control to the caprice of his palette. Fledgling images of light and shadow flowed from his unfettered mind and coursed down his long sinewy arms; they shot through his elegant fingers and eventually burst fully formed onto the canvas in a Technicolor vision.

In the midst of the whirled hues, he remembered and cherished the thought that this was his time. No one, no criticism, no ignorance could hinder him. Those who had refused to acknowledge him before would soon have no choice.

Wincing, he remembered the trivial criticisms they had offered.

“The color choice is marvelous –so evocative – but Edward, aren’t the lines somewhat wrong?” or “It’s very good Edward, but you must pay attention to your angles – the proportions are off slightly.” Or “Edward, it’s magnificent, but don’t you think ….”

Even his father, the art critic for The Post, had advised him, “Son, you have amazing abilities, just hone them a bit. Take the time Edward – it will come.”

Edward had been an obedient son and enrolled in the impressive Hudson Academy. But from the first day, he knew his would be a short tenure. He didn’t belong there among all those fresh-faced eager pupils. The discussions of technique and form disgusted him. “Real art,” he thought “is free, unfettered by regulation and education.” The faculty was rigid, structured, and demanding. Their criticisms took form in words like “discipline,” “control,” and “proportion.” But Edward knew the reality: they were jealous, resentful that one so young and untested possessed such natural ability. When he finally withdrew, Dean Robinson’s parting words confirmed it to him.

“I wish you’d reconsider, Edward. Speaking on behalf of the faculty, we are sorry to see you go. We all believe you have what it takes; you simply need to apply yourself to learning.”

“Well,” Edward had thought then, “I do have what it takes; only it’s instinctual not learned; it’s free and unchained by convention.” Now, spurred on by the memories, Edward allowed his hand to create unbridled, sweeping strokes of orchid and crimson. They were independent, conquering strokes, strokes intent on proving his professors wrong.

Eventually Edward once again stood calmly before the canvas, his brush now resting on the palette in the pooled aftermath of his colored fury; his hand hung limply by his side. The painting was complete.

“There it is,” he whispered, “the winning submission for the Metropolitan Art Exhibition. Wait ‘til those stuffy profs see that they were wrong. When I’ve won first place, they’ll have to admit it.”


Six weeks later, when Edward received an official looking envelope, his hands eagerly tore open the seal and read the following:

Dear Edward Kent,

Thank you for your recent submission to the art competition. We were pleased by the many fine entries and are happy to inform you that the judges have selected your painting to display in our annual exhibition.

He knew it! His instinct had been correct -- it had simply been a matter of getting the right people to see his work. The letter continued.

Your work shows a great deal of promise and we are delighted to award you an Honorable Mention. This placing reflects, what we believe to be, your unlimited potential.

As stated in the contest rules, this placing also entitles you to a full scholarship to study Studio Art at the prestigious Hudson Academy. We trust the next four years will prepare you for a prolific career.


The Metropolitan Arts Commission

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Member Comments
Member Date
Lynda Schultz 01/28/08
Ouch! Imagine getting a scholarship to a school you had withdrawn from because you thought it was beneath you. Now there's a lesson in humility. Well done.
LauraLee Shaw01/30/08
Your descriptions are vivid and beautiful. Your message came shining through...