Many years ago, my younger sister was taking drawing and painting lessons. She happily and innocently dabbed paint on canvas and our mom framed them and hung them on the living room wall proudly, as middle-class moms are wont to do. She reproduced a famous painting of clowns and harlequins, and the Scream and then some naked women bathing, causing our cleaning lady to tut tut, and she was happy.

One day, soon after the clown and harlequin painting appeared on my parents’ living room wall, I said to her, “Why don’t you paint the Cheat with the Ace of Hearts? It’s my favourite painting ever, and I’ll hang it on our wall.”

So she purchased some gold paint and a big blank canvas, and happily began sketching away.

Days and days passed. Months. The canvas stood on the easel in her room. Parts of it were coloured in, then coloured out. “It’s too hard!” she wailed “The hands! The light! The satin! Their eyes!”. “But it’s not even that famous!” I answered. “What has that got to do with it?” she answered crossly. “It’s Art, not Britney Spears!”
More time passed, and soon the half-blank canvas was dumped in my brother’s empty bedroom. After a while, the easel disappeared too, and my sister announced that she had given up drawing and painting.

We tried to talk her out of it. But she was adamant. “I realised I have no talent. George de la Tour showed me. Why should I waste time on something that I’m no good at?”


Today, I saw a notice for a piano concert at Dalhousie. I wondered whether I should take The Princess- a nice cultural activity for the two of us, maybe inspire her to take practice more seriously. I began reading the blurb on the notice “…with Lucas Porter, piano prodigy, youngest winner of the blah blah music award, blah blah musical genius…”

Suddenly I remembered the unhappy relationship of George de la Tour and my sister. I decided against taking the Princess to see Lucas Porter, musical genius and piano prodigy though he may well be. I still have a few years of enjoying the Princess’s halting piano practice- there is time enough for bitterness and frustration. Let her be our star while she can.



  1. Who knows, but I could imagine that great avant-garde painters such Picasso or Miro would have also given up to repaint George de la Tour’s Ace of Hearts. But unlike your sister, both of them had this unlimitted self-esteem to mask their inability by founding a new style in arts.
    I think you should have tried harder to keep your sister carrying on with her way of painting.
    regards, michael

  2. interesting story!… I think what is fascinating that I have moved from Canada to Leeds and you have done opposite of that!

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