“What are you painting?”I said, “A classmate.”
“Do you hate him?”
I was quiet.
“You hate him and are afraid to paint your hatred. Yes?”
I did not say anything.
“It is a false painting. It reeks of cowardice and indecision. In art, cowardice and indecision can be seen in every stroke of a brush. If you hate him, paint your hatred or do not paint him at all. One must not paint everything one feels. But once you decide to paint something, you must paint the truth or you will paint green rot. This boy in your class—he mistreats you?”
“He is mean to you? He laughs at you?”
“These marks on his face—they are pimples?”
“And you hate him?”
“Then paint him the way you feel about him. Use your lines and colors and shapes to make your statement simply and clearly. Do you understand?”
He came over to me later and peered at the canvas. He nodded slowly. “It is an excellent painting.” He looked at me soberly. “I would not like to be hated by you, Asher Lev.”
Excerpt From: Potok, Chaim. “My Name Is Asher Lev.”