I used to feel nervous whenever my art teacher hovered behind the easel in our Saturday life-drawing class. He wouldn't openly criticize, although sometimes I wish he did, but he'd always snatch the charcoal from my hands and scribble all over my composition.
"Darker," he'd say as his dusty fingers returned my crumbling charcoal. Without saying another word, he'd turn around and continue to pace down the hall, leaving me with charcoal smudges several shades blacker than the light sketches I had planned out. I would then work quickly to darken my strokes and shadows to blend with his. This process would repeat until he found nothing to darken.
Looking back I realized he wasn't showing me how to draw humans - I was already obsessed with capturing the anatomy. Rather, he demonstrated to me how to be bold in making art, starting with the blacks. He was pushing me to practice creative courage.
While the students openly wondered if his hands were ever clean from charcoal dust, he laughed at our curiosity and told us to get back to work. After all, those were the hands that dared to create something bold.