Q. My 13-year-old daughter is extremely artistic and creative, but lately she has started drawing cartoons that are far more sophisticated than her previous work. She then shows off this work to friends and family, which gives her much acclaim and attention.
I got suspicious when I saw an old light box of mine in her room. This made me ask her several times if she had done the drawings herself, and each time she defensively said, “Yes!” When I walked into her room, however, she quickly threw the covers over the light box and told me that I should have knocked first. Obviously, she had been tracing a cartoon.
It seems to me that my daughter is telling a huge lie — almost like cheating — so she can get false self-esteem from something that she didn’t create herself. I don’t know what to do about it. I probably wouldn’t be so bothered if she hadn’t shown her drawings to so many people and then denied that she had traced them.
Should I be worried about this lie? Or should I just let it go?
A. Perhaps the problem bothers you so much because you know, deep in your heart, that it’s much worse to tell a lie than it is to trace a picture, as many artists do.
Art students trace drawings done by the masters, because it helps them learn how to draw their own pictures. Illustrators copy maps or technical illustrations on the computer, rather than use an old-fashioned light box. And portrait painters often use photographs to measure the distance from the eye to the ear or the nose to the chin, so their paintings will be accurate. Very few of these artists lie about the use of these props, however, and your child shouldn’t lie about it, either.