Gio tried hard, a little frown of concentration wrinkling his forehead. Everyone else seemed to do it the way the pedagogue described. His however must have been a poor attempt, because the pedagogue just clucked his tongue and said nothing, moving on to the next youngster and talking to him. The pedagogue said “No one but a madman can draw a perfect circle freehand”.
It seemed no matter what he did the thing just wouldn’t come right. He must be stupid, or not really human. It seemed to fit with everything his exasperated father shouted at him. He couldn’t help wanting to know about everything, especially those topics his father said were ‘beyond him’. Then when they spoke about them, his father said, “You just don’t get it, the world doesn’t work that way” and then that would be the end of the conversation.
Yet they all admired his scratchings on a rock, pictures of the sheep he looked after.
However when he finally discovered paint and canvas in the studio where he was apprenticed his life changed. Painting was fun, and after a while people, even his father realised he had a talent. The early days of telling him he was crazy just because he could draw a perfect circle and no-one else seemed able to do it were over.
Soon he had earned a salary from the city, that city so renowned for its artists. He was happy, painting, making the world as it appeared to him. Acclaimed for the realism of his work he led a professional life that was most satisfying. Yet he was not stodgy. He had a great sense of fun, once painting an insect on the face of o painting. People tried and tried to brush it off it seemed so lifelike.
Then one hot summer day, when all the artists felt like was going down to the river for a swim, there came a man to the studio claiming to be from the Pope. The man said the Pope wanted a sample of his work to judge for himself. Gio wondered about this, then decided the best way to show his competence was to show his absolute control. So he quickly took a brush that was already covered in red paint and drew a perfect circle. Blowing it dry, he handed it to the man, saying, tell his holiness that I have this control. The man wanted to argue, but Gio said, “That is a good enough example of my abilities. Tell them how I painted it, how quickly and with no aids.”
(borrowed from various surces about Giotto di Bondone, with a whole load of other stuff thrown in)