Werewolves and Roger Ebert – Lessons from Second-Grade

Drawing by Stefan, age 13. Click the image to see the rest of the gallery.

Drawing by Stefan, age 13. Click the image to see the rest of the gallery.


Monet, Picasso, Van Gogh, Renoir, Pollack. You have most likely heard of these men and can immediately recall countless images created by each, and chances are you can recall specific feelings you’ve had viewing their creations. Happiness, sadness, contentedness, maybe even anger (“What’s so great about Pollack? My kid could paint that!”). But odds are that you’ve never heard of Chris Burden. Don’t feel too bad. I hadn’t heard of him until a couple of days ago when Roger Ebert wrote a blog entry about him and his little-known work.  

If you don’t follow Ebert’s blog you need to do yourself a favor and start. Not only is he a well-spring of information about all things film, he also writes from the heart and often muses about his childhood or God or metaphysics or Darwinism v. Creationism. Or sometimes all of the above. His latest post involves a little bit of God sprinkled with a healthy amount of art and its personal effects on people. Before you read any further here, please go to his blog and read the entry.  

It’s obvious that different pieces of art mean different things to different people. That’s the beauty of art. One single piece can create thousands of unique experiences. The really good artists, the Van Goghs and Monets and Picassos and Pollacks, have that rare ability to reach to the heart and soul. But what of the painting that your child or grandchild or even your younger self made? The ones hung carefully by alphabet magnets on countless refrigerators – those made-to-order household museums? Yes, “The Great Ones” have the ability to reach to your heart and soul, but those closest to you have them in their grasp.  

An illustration (a comment I made on Ebert’s entry):  

“I vividly remember a picture I drew and colored in second grade. It was of a werewolf (remember – second grade). After I had finished I was of the belief that it was a remarkably good and detailed drawing of a werewolf. To me it looked like something that could be hanging in a gallery. Less than 2 years ago I found it in a box in my parents’ house. It was what I would expect a drawing of a werewolf from a second grader would look like. It was nothing like I remembered it or what I thought of it at the time. I was honestly embarrassed by it. How could I have ever thought that looked good? That single piece of terrible artwork has had a lasting impression on me from the moment that I finished it. I have never forgotten it. But it was crap. I’ll leave art to the professionals.”  


I should have expanded on that last sentence. No, I’m not an artist and I have no talent in the realm of drawing (not even close). But that little piece of crap drawing that I made way back in second grade obviously struck a chord in me. It’s the first drawing that I can recall by memory. I’m sure there were many drawings before then, but why can’t I remember them? Because at the time it was the first drawing I thought was actually good. I mean really good. I cared about it enough to bring it home from school (I can even remember the desk I sat at when I drew it. Crazy how memory works.). And it quickly found its place on the refrigerator and eventually into the box of memories that my parents proudly keep tucked away in my old bedroom. Remember the heart and soul I mentioned above? Apparently that little werewolf struck something in my parents, too. Maybe they saw how proud of it I was. Maybe they kept it because they kept everything my brother and I ever made (Seriously. Countless macaroni Santas sit in that box.). Whatever the reason, the fact that they kept it for all of these years shows just how personal even the smallest, most insignificant piece of art can be.  

After posting my comment, Roger Ebert had this to say in response:  

Ebert: It looked good when you finished it. That was its only purpose. If you’d saved your second-grade prose, would you have a blog today?   

Now, damn you, sit down and draw a werewolf and post it on your blog and I’ll link it here. Remember the rules: Finish every drawing you begin, and keep every drawing you finish.  


Well, I have answered the call and drawn a werewolf. Truth be told, it doesn’t look much different than the little werewolf I drew in second grade. I’ve actually had it done since Friday afternoon, but I am admittedly embarassed to post this. After my soul searching earlier in the week and realizing that even seemingly insignificant pieces of art aren’t so insignificant, I’m still embarassed to post this. But I’m sucking it up and posting it for all to see. So look at it, meditate upon it, and let it speak to you. Even if all it’s saying to you is, “Wow. My kid could draw that.”  

matts werewolf 

 Update: There appears to be a minor controversy stirring around my recently drawn werewolf (above). When I sat down to draw it, I did a Google image search for a werewolf and came across this image (http://www.narniafans.com/wp-content/uploads/2007/09/pc_werewolf_9-24-07.jpg). I left it on the screen, freehanded my drawing, and closed the computer screen thinking nothing of it. Now a recent commenter is claiming that I tried to claim this drawing as my own original piece of artwork. That was not my intention. I drew this picture based off of the other artist’s image. The image was used simply as a template for my drawing, or as real artists put it, “inspiration.” The only reason the link was left off is because I didn’t have it, and honestly, I didn’t think it was a big enough deal to go searching for it. I’m not profiting off of this drawing. It’s not for sale (unless you want to make an offer). And I’m certainly not bragging about it. The original image is clearly superior to my drawing and I’m fairly certain it was done using computer generated images. Mine was done with a #2 mechanical Bic pencil on 8×10 white computer paper. I feel ridiculous for even having to clear this up, but I want to do away with any sort of accusations that this has caused. I hope this settles it. 

And to clear up any further confusion about which drawing was done when: the drawing above was done in October of 2009. The link below is the drawing I did in 2nd grade. Seriously, I don’t think I should have to clear that up as it seems obvious, but some commenters seem to have trouble reading the full post. 

P.S. The second-grade werewolf is being hunted down diligently by my parents. When they find it, they are sending it to me and I will post it. Update: The second-grade werewolf has been discovered. My parents and brother were gracious enough to scan it and send it to me. I present it to you here in its originial, unedited form. Enjoy. 

second-grade werewolf


~ by reeltoreel on October 18, 2009.

14 Responses to “Werewolves and Roger Ebert – Lessons from Second-Grade”

  1. That is one fine werewolf. In motion, even, Proportions and fur admirable. Admit it. And I daresay you will draw something else today. Day after day, you will love it more. Give me an honest answer: When you were drawing, you dropped outside of time, right? You were in the Zone? It was a peaceful place and you liked it.

    • You are too kind, sir. But I must admit, I did enjoy it. Werewolves aren’t my subject of choice, but I enjoyed it immensely. I need to work on shading among many other things, but I will return to drawing. It’d been awhile, but I think I’ve caught the fever. 🙂

  2. that’s why i posted that people need not be afraid to make their own art. you’d be surprised what you can do if you try and try again. nothing is perfect the first time, not even the big bang.

    • “Not even the big bang.” Haha! Very true! I hadn’t drawn anything in years, but it was fun to get back to it. Even if it was of a werewolf. 🙂

  3. reeltoreel,
    Does this drawing inspire you to watch and review “New Moon?”…

    • The only thing that inspires me enough to even remotely consider watching “New Moon” is Kristen Stewart. 🙂

  4. that werewolf looks like a piece of s*** that crawled out of your momma’s ***

    • That’s mature. Good to see I’m getting intelligent comments here. The only reason I didn’t delete your comment is because…well, I don’t know why I didn’t. I don’t believe in extreme censorship. You’re lucky.

  5. You didnt do this in 2nd grade – you did it recently as its a direct copy of this werewolf [mirrored]

    Shame about that, would have been nice if you did do it yourself. As an artist there is one thing I truely cannot stand: plagerism!

    • You’re right. I didn’t do this in 2nd grade. Read the post. That was the one I drew recently. The other link is to my 2nd grade drawing. It was OBVIOUSLY done in 2nd grade. The picture that you have linked is the picture I used as a “template” of sorts to draw my recent one. I didn’t trace it or copy it and claim it as my own. I freehanded my drawing based off of the one you have linked. It’s not plagiarism (which is the correct spelling of the word). Thanks for the compliment though. :/

    • And to clear up any confusion and to be absolutely transparent about it, I will link to the original picture of the werewolf. The only reason I didn’t link it originally is because I didn’t save the link. I had done a simple Google image search to find it, drew it freehand, and closed the computer without saving the link. Hope that clears up any confusion. It was definitely not my intention to advertise that picture as my 2nd grade drawing nor was I trying to take credit for the original artist’s work. Their image is clearly superior to mine and possibly done on a computer. I don’t honestly see how you could think that I simply “mirrored” the image and posted it as my own. I really drew it but it was based off of that image.

  6. […] down the source – a blog entry that includes second grade art and the wisdom of Roger Ebert, do enjoy. Posted by: Brittany on March 8th, 2010 | Comments (0)Want More Found Photos, The Arts?Brittany's […]

  7. I stumbled upon your blog post and had to jump into the conversation (albeit five years late – still, better late then never). For all of you who are faulting him for using an image on the internet, you should be aware that what he did is not plagiarism. Its called appropriation. Its been around and is readily seen in the art world; most notably by Andy Warhol during the Pop Art movement.

    Reeloreel Recontextualized the image by tying it to a story from his past as well as connecting it to his former 2nd grade work. the drawing isn’t just a drawing anymore, its a story in addition to being a drawing. Because of this, its effectively his work, regardless of whether or not he used that drawing as a resource.

    • Thanks so much for your comment! I’m glad someone actually took the time to read the post and understand what I was saying. 🙂 This site has been dormant for years, but it was nice to get the email about this comment. I really appreciate it!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: