Meeting Nį 1:
Antonio* is 10 years old. Each month, he visits the hospital to be treated for his lung disease and he is to have an operation soon. A nurse from the unit suggested that I visit Antonio. I asked him if he wanted to paint and he said yes, with a big smile. Before we started I put on the table a Birdís book, one from Santiago Garcia Saenz and the one from the exhibition, Woods. He looked quickly at the Birdís book and mentioned that he used to have a parrot that had flown away from him. When we were about to start painting, I asked him if he wanted to use some of the images he had on his computer, which he agreed to. He commented that he enjoyed doing things related to God, so I encouraged him to look at Garcia Saenzís book. He was very interested. I asked him what religion he practiced, and his mother, who remained with us during the whole meeting, said they were Christians. He really liked a painting where some men were shown to be lying on what seemed to be an empty temple, with an image of Christ on the dome. In his notebook, I explained some of the space-setting aspects of the painting, which he easily understood. His enthusiasm welcomed my interventions, even when I was insistent. He seemed to have difficulty painting with fluidity; it looked as if he had never used a paintbrush before, even though he had said otherwise. I decided then to leave the canvas aside for a while and try some exercises on paper, practicing different movements and thicknesses with the pencil to create zigzags. Antonio seemed to enjoy learning new techniques. While he painted, he said he wanted to become an artist and that someone had even told him he was already an artist! However, he still believed that he had a lot to learn. I remained silent for a moment and then told him that perhaps he was already an artist, in the same way a seed becomes a tree that grows little by little, and that, when while being an artist, you never stop learning. He seemed to understand. He looked so happy to be painting while he talked about his life and asked technical questions.

In between activities, he commented again that he wanted to become an artist, but that it would never happen because of his boundaries. I answered that sometimes itís good to overcome boundaries, especially while doing art. He responded that he would not do it, because that is what he promised to his former neighbor, who had died.  I asked him if he didnít think it was possible to explain to his neighbor that sometimes it would be necessary to overcome boundaries in order to become an artist. I proposed to write in the painting a new promise for himself. First, he said he would, but then he decided that the painting would be for his grandmother. Finally, instead of painting men on the floor, he decided to paint the face of Jesus that he practiced on his notebook twice before doing the final version. Towards the end, when he had already painted a cross on top of the dome, he said he would also paint the signs of other gods: Neptune and Zeus! Before I left, I took a picture of him with his painting. He wanted to pose with his paintbrush behind his ears. I decided to leave him some paintbrushes and acrylics, given his great enthusiasm. When I left, after three hours of working, he asked me if I could give him my home address to come and paint. I thought he was so sweet! Instead, I gave him my phone number so he could let me know when he wanted me to come to the hospital. 

Hospital de Ninos Ricardo Gutierrez, June 28, 2013. Encounter with Catalina.

* In order to protect the privacy of the child, the name used in this article has been changed.

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