Father's 'Blue' Period
It can be surprising what latent talents fathers discover when they want to make their kids happy.
Last Christmas, Lawrence Veling found he had a knack for drawing characters from the Nickelodeon show "Blue's Clues." He had never sketched or doodled, and couldn't draw anything else.
But for his 2-year-old son Kevin, he could churn out remarkable likenesses of Blue, Mr. Salt, Mrs. Pepper, Slippery Soap and Tickety Tock in rapid succession as Kevin cried "More!" Even the neighbors were impressed when they saw Mr. Veling's chalk drawings on the sidewalk.
Mr. Veling, 44, worked two jobs ‹ one as a fireman with Engine 235 in Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn, and one as a high school custodian in Manhattan ‹ so his scarce time at home was devoted to his three children, Ryan, 7, Cynthia, 6, and Kevin.
He colored in coloring books. He played Junior Monopoly. He went to school in his full uniform for fire safety week.
"I knew my kids would grow up to be great adults because they had a great father," said Dianne Veling, his wife.
Mrs. Veling says her own sketches of Blue's Clues characters are inconsistent. "A couple of times I was impressed with myself, but I forgot how I did it."
Profile published in THE NEW YORK TIMES on November 19, 2001.