(What do you think teenagers are really concerned about today?) "Self-image. Today's media puts so much importance on what teenagers should be we all try to live up to a manufactured image". (Advice for other teens) "If you don't change yourself you have no right to complain".
Ritchie did a great job posing, but I struggled with this painting. More importantly, I learned a hard lesson about myself. Unfortunately, I said something clumsy and insensitive and made him feel bad. I took a picture of him near the end of the session, and I couldn't figure out the right setting for the camera and complained out loud that I couldn't get a good picture. His demeanor changed visibly after that, and when I asked him if he was okay, he said he didn't want to pose any more, and he was upset. It turns out he thought I meant that I couldn't get a good picture because of the way he looked. I realized how insensitive I had been, and apologized to him and explained that it wasn't him (he is a very nice looking young man), but it took a few minutes of us talking for him to not feel upset. I can't blame him, that could have made anyone feel bad! Here is a thoughtful statement from an email one of the painters working along with me sent me the following day, "It's one of those moments when I am acutely aware that these young people are walking a tight-rope between childhood and adulthood, and that as poised and graceful as they may be one moment, they still may need a steadying voice ... to help them regain their balance the next, lest they tumble..."