Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Art class - 1

This will not really be an entertaining post. Mostly, I'm trying to get my thoughts in order going forward. When I first offered to teach the twins a class, I was really excited about showing the twins all that I had learned to love in countless art classes. But as I tried to picture what I would teach, I remembered how I was taught - I was given a medium and told 'Go!'.

I'd forgotten that my first art class was a very strange manipulation by my art teacher - who also happened to be my home room teacher. When I couldn't get my schedule in order, she suggested an art class. The only one available was advanced art, which had a pre-req of Basic art. She told me she would sign off on it. Now I wonder what she was thinking - I never asked her, but I'm sure it was a scheming sort of thing - she was that type. Being in advanced art with a bunch of people who knew what they were doing, meant that she separated me from everyone else, and asked me what medium I'd like to play with. My first was a charcoal drawing - bats from one of a billion National Geographics she had. She'd occasionally come over and point out some tricks with charcoals. It was fantastic.

But from then on out, all of my classes were like that, even when I changed schools and teachers. When I was uninterested in the air brush course, but had recently gotten an old used set of oil paints from my boyfriends mom - my art teacher gave me the supply closet to work in, and just let me go.

Sadly, what this means is that I have no recollection whatsoever of being taught how to paint. I do remember sitting forever trying to draw 'still life'. Which is almost always a bowl of fruit. Hated it! But we had to do it once a week and I actually noticed that I got better the more I practiced. I still hate it, no matter how much it would improve my skill if I started doing it again.

So, for the twins, I had originally thought I would give them paints and say GO! But, I realized that one of the things that makes me quit painting again and again, is that I hate my art. I want realism and I'm just not good at it. So I slowly changed this around in my head and made some plans for an overhead projector, so I could give them a sketch to paint. Brilliant! Well, it turns out it's not that brilliant - I really don't want huge things for them to paint from, and it only works on transparencies. But I could do the basic sketches using those, so it was worth trying.

They each brought me a picture of a wolf that they wanted to be able to paint, and I made a quick and sloppy sketch of my mother's cat for them to fill in. I had discovered while trying to figure out how to get sketches out of my overhead projector, that just tracing something helped me remember a lot about the variety of small tricks involved in sketching. So while one would paint the cat, the other would trace their wolf using the lighting of the projector.

This showed me some things that I have learned over time, though I don't remember learning it, that are actually not intuitive. One is the ability to mix the right colors to get what you want, the other is the ability to make the paint go where you want it - aka, color inside the lines.

I have heard again and again from my many creative friends that you don't have to color inside the lines. And that is very true - but it should be a choice to color outside the lines. It should not be because you can't.

Also, I had a very sad epiphany recently, as my sister in law is now teaching art classes of her own. She had found out that there were high school kids who did not know that blue and yellow make green. There has been recent talk of art being no longer a commonly offered extra curricular activity  - which I thought was fine for people who weren't interested in it. But. To not know how to make colors? I guess all those colors come in the paint set.... Nah, it's unthinkable. Also, my love for art wasn't because I was interested, it was because I was given a chance to be interested.

Hopefully the next class will not be too dull. I want to show them the glory of painting - or I want them to find what art interests them. But first they have to know how.