One day, Jeremy came home from school upset from a scolding by his teacher. He was a sensitive boy, and the scolding in front of his classmates had brought him to tears.
Jeremy went up to his room and began to paint. His hand was shaking, and he couldn’t stay inside the lines.
When he was finished, he stepped back from his work, a mountain scene, and examined it. It looked unlike anything he had ever painted. Not only were the edges of the colors uneven, some of the colors themselves were clearly wrong. Blue snow on a mountaintop, orange pine trees, green water.
Seeing this, Jeremy became even more upset. He had always been proud to show off his paintings, but he felt like throwing this one away.
Just then, his mother came in. She saw tears.
“What’s wrong, honey?”
“I messed it up.”
“Oh, honey,” she said, putting her arms around him. “It’s okay.”
“No, it’s not!” he said, pushing her away. “It’s terrible.”
“Let me see,” she said.
She stepped over to his table and had a look.
“Oh, Jeremy! It’s beautiful. I love what you’ve done here. It’s your best painting yet.”
“How can you say that?” Jeremy whimpered. “Can’t you see where I messed up? It doesn’t look anything like the picture on the box.”
“No, it doesn’t. It’s you. That’s what makes it so beautiful.”
“Really?” Jeremy said, wiping his eyes. “You really like it?”
“I love it,” his mother said. “And I can’t wait to show Dad when he gets home.”
Jeremy’s father liked it too.
“You’re becoming a real artist,” he said.
After that, Jeremy switched from painting by number to painting with watercolors on white sheets of paper. He didn’t sketch anything. He just started painting, either random shapes and colors or certain images in his mind. He liked these paintings, and the act of creating them, so much more.
Seeing the joy this new type of painting brought Jeremy, his mother bought him a framed canvas and an easel. Jeremy stood and painted a hillside covered with flowers of various shapes and colors. He had never seen such a hillside. He’d simply imagined it.
Soon, Jeremy was painting on large sheets of canvas on the floor of his garage. He no longer painted the images in his head, though. Now he tried to express the emotions in his heart.
He dashed red rage this way and blue serenity that way, swept green hope here and grey frustration there and drizzled everything with yellow happiness. Jeremy’s paintings were a montage of the emotions he was feeling in his life.
In time, Jeremy’s paintings sold for thousands at auction. People said his paintings spoke to them.