Micawber loves fine art, and every Sunday in springtime, he scampers off to the Metropolitan Museum of Art on Fifth Avenue. You see, Micawber has figured out how to get himself on the roof of the museum where he can enjoy some of the finest pieces of art in the world from the vantage point of the skylights.
Through the windows he’d gaze at Van Dyck and van Gogh,
Appraise every Rembrandt and Titian.
He would scrutinize Rubens, peruse each Rousseau,
Inspect each Lautrec and Cassatt and Miro.
He would find a new favorite each time he would go,
And nobody charged him admission.
One day, Micawber observed someone who had set up an easel and was painting her own version of Claude Monet’s “Haystack at Twilight.” He was enthralled. He spent the rest of that day watching her every stroke — how she mixed the colors on her palette and arranged them with her brush to form a near copy of the original. She was learning from the master, and Micawber was learning from her.
Suddenly Micawber got an idea. He waited until the student artist came out of the museum at the end of the day and stowed himself away on the back of her bicycle as she rode to her apartment, where he managed to sneak in without being noticed. Patiently he waited until nighttime when she was sound asleep and then he got out her supplies, and using the tip of his tail as a brush, he spent the rest of the night painting.
When he was done, Micawber was so proud he practically fainted. “He’d been looking at paintings from day number one, but never a painting he’d painted.”
Quickly, before his unknowing mentor awoke, he rolled up his canvas, tied it with a shoelace and escaped through her open window. For the rest of the summer and into the fall, Micawber returned to the apartment thirty times, and thirty times he brought a painting home and framed it on the wall of his home atop the old Carousel in the park. Soon he was entertaining his own showings for his feathered and furry friends, because no longer was it just his home, it was now Micawber’s Museum of Art.
So if some July you should chance to pass by
A viridian Central Park dale,
Look around for a squirrel with a gleam in his eye
And some paint on the tip of his tail.
Chandler is a natural artist, too, with a unique eye for color. He has always been able to put colors together that you would never imagine would work, and every picture he creates and every photograph he takes is perfectly balanced. Everybody is able to experience some piece of the creative process, because we are all made in the image of the Creator. Don’t go staring at everybody’s tail, but there is some color somewhere on the tip of everyone’s experience.
[Quotes are from Micawber, a poem by John Lithgow, exquisitely illustrated by C.F. Payne, published by Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, although you don’t have to have any young readers in your household to own one.]