“That really doesn’t look so much like me,” said Emily in her most polite yet most matter-of-fact way.
“How can you be so sure? What I mean is, have you ever seen yourself?”
I had expected her to walk away and simply ponder these questions for a while and then forget all about the newest drawing I had made of her. At most, she might ask me to get a mirror so she really could see herself and maybe make her own self-portrait.
But she didn’t do any of those things. She had a ready answer.
“Yes, I have seen myself,” she said with complete certainty.
“Yes, I see myself everyday when I look at my reflection in Amelia’s eyes. It happens when we are smiling at each other.”
This was a perfect answer because Amelia is Emily’s best friend. Her words had taken me by surprise and warmed my heart at the same time.
“I understand now. Without a doubt, that really is the best way to see yourself. In the eyes of your best friend. I like that.”
Emily smiled. She often smiles when we teach each other something new. She was definitely the teacher this time.
“If that’s how you see me, then I’m fine with it,” she said. “You did a nice job with the background. I look really well camouflaged, just like in real life.”
She was being so careful to keep my artist’s ego intact.
“Just one thing. Please?”
“Would you work a little more on drawing iridescence?” she said. Her smile reassured me she was not at all bothered by her portrait.
“I will, Emily. I promise. But you know, I was trying to draw you more grown up. You changed a lot over the summer when you started making drawings for yourself. You’re more confident now, but still such a sweet little lady.”
She smiled again in her most charmingly playful way.
You may ask, and rightly so, how do chickens smile? This is a fair question. Anyone who has ever examined a chicken closely knows their beaks are hard and don’t bend or move the way our mouths do when we smile.
I can only recommend spending time with chickens, and then you will learn to recognize their smiles. This may take lots of time, but that is the way it is with most things of value. Eventually you will begin to recognize their smiles and they will recognize yours.
You will also learn the best way to see an image of yourself is just as Emily had said. Your truest portrait is not found in a drawing or painting or even a photograph. It is found in the reflection you will find in the eyes of someone who has called you their friend. No mirror is needed.
There are many things that someone can call you, but I believe “my friend” may be my most favorite one.
My Life With Gracie (and especially Emily) taught me the best way to see myself.
Each post shares a glimpse into my journey as a writer and illustrator. Every “Like,” “Follow,” and “Comment” is truly appreciated! The reference to iridescence in today’s post is from our most popular post so far this year titled “True Iridescence.”
The biggest “not like Emily” things in this drawing are the feathers around her eyes. That’s not how face feathers grow on a chicken. But I like how drawing them this way emphasizes Emily’s eyes. She does have the biggest and most wide-open eyes of all my chickens. She sees everything! And although drawn incorrectly, they do echo the fall chrysanthemum blossoms in the background.