My first class on my first day

The challenges have begun. My first class on my first day at RISD gave me two trials at once. We began our training as artists with “life drawing”. I was excited to see the famed Nature Lab at RISD with its collections of specimens from all over the globe. Most were stuffed or preserved, but there was a menagerie of small animals and insects.

Our instructor, Dr. Fredric Blussmer led our class from the studio up the steep hill of Waterman Avenue to “the Lab”. As we all filed in through the door the eyes of the young men and women in my group gaped at the natural wonders of our world. Nothing is so amazing as feeding an artist with visual intrigue. Dr. Blussmer began to give instructions that we were to chose a live specimen and make sketches of it. I heard the mumbling of my classmates and realized for the first time in my young life, the murmuring was not about me.

The good Dr. finished his instructions and we all set to find a live creature to draw. Many students surrounded the reptile and bird enclosures. a stout girl and her giggly companion took chairs and placed them before the enormous fish tank. There were those of us that didn’t know quite what to draw and, as I imagine, like me my classmates were still trying to take it all in.

What did I want to sit and watch for the next hour or so? Rats? No. Turtles. Those said boredom. As I spent my time arguing in my head only two things remained – a spot in front of the sleeping iguana and short stool placed before the fairy cage. I wanted to make a good impression on Blussmer, so I went to the stool by the fairies. I had draw these creatures my entire life.

What would my father say? He’d be furious that these insects were even in a cage, never mind being used for study. Taking out my pencil and penknife, I began to rough in the lines of the creature hiding behind the leaves before me. It looked at me, as though it was studying me back. For a solid hour, the small thing looked at me cocking its head from side to side moving only slightly from time to time to adjust its footing.

I started to wonder if these things actually did have feelings and thoughts. Father would be proud. I, on the other hand, felt a little sick at the thought of intelligent fairies. That concept had destroyed my life. Not to mention what it has done to the rest of the world.

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