Friday, 2 April 2010

The Fidget

My son has always been one who needed to know how things work and what everything does. I took delivery of a new car recently. I was very pleased with it even though it was the same make as my last one it had so many things that were very different. I invited him out for a drive in it so that he could experience first hand what it was like. As we drove along all I could see on my dashboard were lights coming on and going off as he pressed every button the car had.

When he was very young we and friends selected presents for him on the basis of their fidget value. This fidgeting had no bounds. Clocks were taken apart never to be put together again. One day he was found sitting in front of the kitchen cupboard. All the tins were lying in front of him with a nice neat bundle of labels. So we knew what was in that cupboard but we did not know in what tin was what. Some of the tins we managed to guess others it was impossible. So for the next few weeks it was a case of, “Lets open a can and see what we are having tonight.”

I remember when I became a teacher in the first school I taught in. The head teacher told me I would get a weekly bulletin telling me about students with discipline problems. She thought this would be a great help to me. I asked her if it would be ok to delay those for a bit. She asked my why. I said I would rather not label the students, would prefer to take them as I found them. Told her I was not afraid to face whatever came my way. When I eventually did get those reports how glad I was I had not seen them, they were talking about students I did not recognise as the ones in my class. I taught for almost 20 years and I can count on the fingers of one hand (and I have to I am hopeless at counting) the times I had a problem with a student.

We are too fast to label people and when we do they often live up to the label. Without the labels they are full of surprises and they often surprise themselves.

Labels belong on cans in cupboards they sure do not belong on people. Maybe if we forgot that we were abstract painters we might find we painted good seascapes and so on. I am aware that some friends who visit my blog do not like abstract art and I respect that.

The abstract used above is discussed at :- The Painting With no Label


  1. Sometimes labels can be helpful as well as hurtful; a double edged sword! Had an aunt...unfortunately saw more of her than the aunt I love....nearest to me in age; about 12 years my senior.
    She always called me 'stupid' and 'clumsy'. I was a stubborn and precocious child so every time she used these words I would immediately think "I'll show you"; and I always did!!! Her comments drove me to always prove her wrong. Her comments hurt and they hurt through life; I was never fond of her but as I went through life I was always careful to never label anyone else.

    As an artist I have noticed people comment and look at my naturalistic landscapes; which is how I have started painting again; they totally ignore my attempts at a change to abstraction. So, guess I have another label to contend with.

  2. No, not much of a fan of abstract art, Ralph, but I sure do like this piece. It reminds me of a lit cross, reflected and refracted over and over again through rain droplets on a windshield. Love the stories about your son; gotta love a questing and thirsty mind. I also love that you refused to live by labeling your students. I hope that your classes remember your teaching with fondness!

  3. I bet you are one of those teachers students never forget! You know, those really special ones that only come around every once in a while and you're so fortunate to be assigned to their class...

    Wonderful reminder and lesson on labels. So true.

    When I first looked at your painting, I thought of a wonderful floating bar or bistro, where all the tables and chairs floated collectively in space. How cool! I want to go to this bar. The more I looked at it, it transformed itself into parrots on their perch!

    Aren't surprises wonderful?

  4. I see nine million bicycles in this it.

  5. Ralph, lovely post and fantastic painting...thank you for sharing. Wishing you and yours a blessed Good Friday and Easter.

  6. Good morning, Ralph, I am alive and it is a great day! I could not agree with you more about labeling students! When I was a teacher they did the same thing, offering us the list of trouble makers and those with failing grades! How stupid is that? I never looked at either, always expected a lot of my students and always got it!
    When I went into construction I always got the best out of my employees also! Thank is what I looked for, what I expected and what i got! Now
    I pretty much believe you always get what you focus on. Great topic today!

  7. i see many crosses in motion with flames, too and a starry comet steaked sky--

  8. Thank you all for your comments they each in there own way speak volumes to me.