To draw or not to draw

Dazel wasn’t looking forward to school.

“That is so unlike you,” remarked Swain. “You love going to school. This is the first Sunday when you’re not looking forward to Monday morning.”

“I don’t like art,” wailed Dazel. “And there’s an art exam tomorrow!”

“That’s because you’re not good at art,” quipped Swain. He was amused to see Dazel in this state. The duck was a good student and excelled at everything but she couldn’t draw a straight line as far as art was concerned.

“I am going to go to Fruit Park to get some tips from Din Din’s brother, Derek. He is very good at drawing and sketching,” Dazel said bidding Swain farewell.

So the entire Sunday was spent getting tips from Derek outside the dinosaur’s cave home in Fruit Park.

“Try sketching this tree,” Derek urged Dazel. He tried to help Dazel use charcoal as well as the paint dyes he had. “Try using feathers for strokes; you can also use grass blades.”

Dazel tried hard, she really did. But all her attempts were unsatisfactory. When the sun was setting Derek told Dazel kindly, “We should call it a day, Dazel. You look exhausted.”

“I don’t understand!” Dazel quacked in exasperation. “I’m following all your instructions but look at how your painting turns out and look at mine!”

“It’s okay!” Din Din comforted Dazel. “We can’t be good at everything. I’m not good at studies but I have a green thumb as far as gardening is concerned. Art is just not your cup of tea.”

“Yes! I stink at art!” she whined as the two friends trudged to the pond where Dazel lived. Dazel was drained so she fell asleep at once but as morning approached she woke up with a start, dreading the day before her.

“All set for the art exam today?” Swain asked her cheerily.

“I guess so,” replied Dazel grumpily. As the two trudged towards the Aviary School for birds Dazel continued to sulk, “The art teacher is weird,” she continued. “If I don’t do well in this exam my grade will drop.”

Swain shook his head, “I like Ms. Cardinal. She’s so pretty.”

“She’s so stubborn,” said Dazel as they entered school. “She wants everyone to be an artist like her!” The day passed well but when it was noon and the art teacher came to Dazel’s classroom, Dazel felt miserable.

“Today, we are going to paint a scene of nature for the art exam,” said Ms. Cardinal looking bright and alert in her red feathers. “Come my little artists, let’s go to the lakeside and paint the lovely water.”

“Nature is the most inspiring thing for an artist,” Ms. Cardinal cooed. “I am handing you this beautiful stone tablet, these some paints and feathers. Paint a scene for me. You can focus on the lake, the trees, the grass or even a flower. Just draw and paint something which inspires you.”

Dazel gazed at her blank stone tablet in remorse, “I am going to flunk this exam!” she muttered to herself. Around her she could see the rest of her classmates looking closely at flowers or gazing at the horizon of the lake. Some had already started painting. Candy the canary was busy using a charcoal to outline the beginning of the scenery on her tablet. Even Swain had begun to mix a few colours on his palette.

Candy was Dazel’s greatest competitor and the two always competed for first position in the class. “Candy is perfect in everything. I wish I could find out what she’s bad at!” Dazel mumbled to herself. Frustrated Dazel picked up her art supplies and went to a remote part of the lakeside.

She heard a splash near her. “Dazel!” Delma the dolphin cried.

“Delma! Why aren’t you at the Aquatic School?” Dazel asked forgetting her problems in her delight on seeing her best friend.

“I am running an errand for Luke, my Science teacher,” Delma explained. “What are you doing here during school hours?”

“I have an art exam and you know how bad I am at drawing and painting!” Dazel said mournfully. Dazel knew Delma was an exceptional artist and had painted several murals on the cove walls of the Aquatic School.

“Let me see what you have done till now,” the dolphin offered. She saw the uneven strokes the duck had made. “Give me those blades of grass,”

Delma instructed. Within a few minutes Delma had dabbed the grass stalks in some paint and created a vivid painting of the weeping willow tree growing at the edge of the lake.

“Wow!” Dazel breathed in amazement. “I’ve got to go report back to school,” Delma said hastily. “Hope this is good enough for you. I’ll see you this evening at the lakeside.” And with those words and a swish of her large tail, Delma was off.

“Oh my! That’s gorgeous,” remarked a voice behind Dazel. The duck whipped around. It was Ms. Cardinal. “Well done, Dazel. Time’s up; it’s time to return to school to submit your tablets.” Dazel was tongue-tied. As she walked back to school hauling her tablet with her, her heart was filled with guilt. “This is not my work. I can’t submit this,” her conscience urged her to do the right thing. If you don’t submit this you will fail,“ another voice from within nagged her. Dazel felt she would go mad.

“You must tell Ms. Cardinal the truth,” her inner voice screamed.

“Just shut up and submit the painting and nobody will be the wiser,” remarked the other voice.

Just then Dazel saw that they were passing by her pond home. Her mind raced. Suddenly, Dazel tripped and the tablet fell into the pond water with a splash.

“Oh dear!” gasped all the birds in her class.

“Oh no!” screeched Ms. Cardinal. “Your beautiful painting is lost.” She gazed at the tablet sink to the bottom of the pond. The colours on the tablet were already running in the water. It seemed strange that Dazel did not look flustered as was expected. She just shrugged and followed the group of her classmates to the Aviary School.

“I’m sorry for that unfortunate accident,” Ms. Cardinal told Dazel once everyone had submitted their paintings. “I’ll let you give a retest right now. You may paint anything you want from around the school premises.”

Dazel agreed and soon submitted the painting of a berry bush growing near the school.

“I’m afraid it’s not as good as your painting of the weeping willow but unfortunately I will have to mark you on this,” Ms. Cardinal said shaking her head regretfully.

“It’s okay, Ms. Cardinal. I want you to do the right thing,” Dazel replied solemnly.

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