I love a story with a happy ending. I am sure that you have seen this by now. If by chance you haven’t, check this out. To pique your interest, this entire link is about Jacob Barnett, who, according to the experts, was unable to learn. Hooray for his mother trusting her instincts and pulling him out of school! After watching this, I couldn’t stop thinking about his message. While the whole page is interesting, scroll down to the bottom and watch Forget What You Know.
I have seen artists who take workshop after workshop after workshop. It sounds good in theory. But when you are learning so much, when do you have time to think about, and work with, all that you have learned?
When I teach, I sometimes get the sense that people are taking my classes so that they can paint like me. I don’t think that it happens, at least not that I have noticed. But shouldn’t a student rather be taking in the info, thinking about it, and applying it to his own work, his own style, his own voice?
I have seen this as well, where a painter will teach or take on a few students and then they all paint like their teacher. Is that a good thing? For awhile, yes. But then the student should move on and find his own voice.
I rarely take a workshop/class. When I consider one, I ask myself if the artist is teaching anything that is going to drastically add to what I am already doing. Otherwise, I really prefer to learn on my own. I will read about a topic of interest, and then get to play, or work, with that new knowledge.
I like how Jacob Barnett used lots of paper to work out his ideas.
I have kids. I honestly cannot say that I have set out to teach art to my kids. I have supplied them with paper, pencil, brushes and paints. And I have been amazed with what they have learned by themselves.
I have a friend that taught preschool. She was frustrated with trying to teach her kids to write. I asked her if the children ever got a chance to just make marks on paper. A child just making marks on paper will learn a lot. My oldest was making marks when she was able to feed herself with a spoon. My husband thought I was crazy. When she got old enough to talk, she would make marks and then say, “Look Mom, I made.…” I believe that the scribbling really prepared her for handwriting.
Here is her first drawing of me. It looks like a contour drawing and I like how it either looks like I am singing, (I made up a lot of songs about everything) or a three/quarter profile. She was three.
Here is a drawing of a neighbor’s cat. My daughter was 5 years old. We watched the cat with her kittens for maybe 15 – 20 minutes.
My little one convinced herself that she couldn’t draw the way Mommy and big sister could. I wasn’t expecting that. Thankfully she didn’t resist the painting. One day my youngest was just mixing colors. Excitedly she would show me. “Look what this color and that color made,” and then she would paint it on her paper. She didn’t paint anything in particular that day – just mixed colors. She really likes abstract art too. Here she painted herself as a dancer. She was working on a Buddha Board.
I recently attended a meeting where we met an art teacher. I brought crayons and blank paper for my youngest. My oldest was working with a drawing book. I now wonder if I should throw it out. Anyway, the art teacher had been watching my youngest work and, she just had to tell me that she thought my daughter was artistically gifted and that I should be mindful of this. I smiled.
This video, Forget What You Know, has me thinking about the way we learn. And I am thinking that we all need a lot more unstructured time to just, actively think.
Morning Light (first image) is a new miniature painting. And I said I wasn’t going to paint any more miniatures. It is 4″ x 6″ and is for a new exhibit, “Lots of Little Art” coming up at Artlink Fort Wayne.
When my daughter was about seven years old, she asked me one day what I did at work. I told her I worked at the college – that my job was to teach people how to draw. She stared back at me, incredulous, and said, “You mean they forget?”
– Howard Ikemoto