Please Don't Eat the Artwork


Spencer’s Book


Across the hall from me is a little class of sweet 1st graders who go to the other art teacher for instruction. Usually kids who don’t come to me take no notice and are really shocked in that moment they look up at my sign and realize “hey, this weird random lady with paint on her face across the hall teaches art too. . . hmmm” So when *Spencer came to visit me at the beginning of the year I was delighted to know a student who I didn’t have to boss around for 45 minutes every week — we could just chill.

He would peek into my room in the afternoons during dismissal and tell me “Hello Mith Kathin” with his big blue eyes and lisp and eventually he started to bring me pictures and artwork he made. This kid is EXTREMELY talented. I will be the first person to gush and rave over some art even if it is just some random scribbles (these kids really need someone to support them in something after all). But Spencer is a whole ‘nother story. His work is reminiscent of an emo band’s cover art with a little bit of Tim Burton thrown in and a dash of Salad Fingers. He has told me that he is inspired by horror movies but they don’t scare him (his college aged siblings let him watch movies with them.)

Most other teachers see his art and about a billion red flags and alarm bells go off in a cacophony of worrisome concern. But once you get to really know Spencer you understand that his expressive artwork is not some metaphorical or figurative way of showing that he is somehow “not right” or “disturbed.” Rather, it is his way of responding to the world he lives in and experiences.

Somewhere during the year we decided to collect his work and make a book at the end of the year. Well, the end has finally arrived and today was the day that I borrowed him from class and we sat down to put his retrospective collection together.

The Cover: “My Art Dook 2013 and 2014”
The illustration is depicting him creating the book.


A letter to the readers I put in the inside cover:
I told Spencer that I hope he keeps this book forever and when he is older and thinks that nobody loves him he can look at it and know he is special and amazing and good at something and someone does love him. He is definitely the kind of sensitive soul who will be faced with emotional obstacles in the future — a.k.a. an artist.




Different makes and models of cars: 

012 013

A House: 


A neighborhood. . . can you even handle how he made the houses 3D and there is a background horizon line!? The writing is of cource absolutely indecipherable or else in a language that only Spencer knows. . . 


The Three Little Ms. Katzins: 


A Tree House: 


A Frog Princess in a Hoodie: 


Princess Fiona from Shrek: 


A Tired Woman: 


Okay so here is one that might be seen as a bit scary but dont worry its not blood its just ketchup and hes holding jelly: 


A Flower Dripping Jelly: 


Spencer’s Family: 


Me hanging artwork up all around the school: 


The Cat in the Hat with some Goth Friends: 


People Dancing at a Party — check out how expressive the lines are and the amazing figurative poses!: 

027 028

A painting created especially for the back cover:
This artwork is made so much better when I finally got to experience his process and see him in action! Look at how he holds that paintbrush what a maverick. 


I really hope Spencer is here next year and if he is not I hope he is somewhere in this wide world surrounded by people who accept him for who he is and embrace his weirdness and creativity. Maybe one day I will see his name during the credits of a movie as the special effects correspondent or the creator of make-up and costumes for a zombie flick. In the meantime, shine on Spencer!



*Name has been changed

Author: artwithmsk

Hello! My name is Ms. Katzin and I am an art teacher at an elementary school near Atlanta, Georgia. Teaching art is my passion and I love what I do!

6 thoughts on “Spencer’s Book

  1. Are you sure he’s a first grader? Amazing!! Thanks for spending time with him and making him feel special. Oh, I guess that’s because you are an extra special teacher.

    Sent from my iPhone


  2. Oh my gosh, I love this. What an awesome experience for both of you – just chilling. And talkin bout art. I myself like some of the gothier art and my son is much like Spencer, but in his writing – he is a very happy, well-adjusted kid and his creativity leans to the dark side but with a sense of humor. Did I read too many Edward Gorey books to him? 😉 happy for you!
    I think it’s very healthy for younguns to explore their emotions through art, writing, music etc

    • Haha! Yes I have always also been drawn to creepy/dark artwork too. Its funny that you mention Edward Gorey — Spencer’s work totally reminds me of that but I just couldn’t for the life of me remember the name! During my middle and high school years art really helped me a lot so its great to see that passed on to the next generation 🙂

  3. This is wonderfully inspiring. Not all children have to develop a single-focused view of the art world. To be able to nurture a different view through this extremely talented artist must be a real privilege for you, Molly. Thanks so much for sharing! Truly touched my heart! 🙂

    • “Not all children have to develop a single-focused view of the art world.” — Well said! I think that art educators have to work really hard to keep in mind that a student can have talent and skills despite the fact that their process/products might not look like what it is “supposed” to look like.

Leave a Reply to artwithmsk Cancel reply

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

You are commenting using your 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