Sunday, April 13, 2014

Art Teachers: When Is It Time To Move On?

Nearly everyone needs or needed a mentor sometime in their life. If you think back carefully enough you may have been lucky to have such a person. Whether a parent, teacher, friend, co-worker or boss it was this person who gave you the courage to go on.

That said, it should also be pointed out that many of us never have had this person, or, one that had your best interests in mind. Belonging to a gang or any stripe usually means that the whole is better than the individual. Interestingly enough, gangs organize themselves pretty much along the same lines as the military. There must be some programming in our genetic code. As for the military it is all ABOUT the group.

Having an artistic mentor didn't really apply much to me until I was in my late 50's. I took up what I found out later was "tole" painting because I wanted something artistic to do, that was cheap and didn't take up much space. Since I loved Pennsylvania Dutch (could it be because my Dad was Saxon?) I bought cheapie birdhouses and decorated them. People were surprised and with each one I got better and better. It was later that my daughter suggested I open an Etsy store since my creations were that different. She was right. Sales started out slow but have grown each year and I too have become even more adventurous. 

The rejected WATERLILIES
 I had always wanted to learn to paint with oils and finally found a person whose style I liked and seemed a good fit for me. Definitely a senior in her 80's, she painted in the loose style that I hoped to emulate. And for awhile it worked. However, after taking classes with other teachers and going outdoors with another group my style began to change. It grew farther and farther away from my teacher's and after one painful evening of critique on several of my, at the time, proudest paintings that I had done on my own and not in class, angry to the point of tears, I silently put my paintings in the car, finished the remaining sessions and never took another class from her again.

I had already moved on. Now, I am at the same crossroads again. My style has matured and is again very different from my current teacher / mentor. That was brought home to me after a series of paintings I did at home recovering and finishing a painting I had started before my surgery. It was a wonderful still life, one that I was even amazed I had done or that I could do. It was at the very end, the moment when it was exactly what I wanted, that comments were made about adding another color that would, to me, deaden the dark background from the brilliant subject. I didn't want to do it but, at her suggestion I added the color. When I got home I removed what I could and at that moment realized the time had come to move on.

I also realized it is a fine line between suggestion, pointing out what maybe another might consider a flaw and respecting what the artist did. I know from other times that if everyone draws the same thing, it comes out very different. I remember the first time I got up, went to the back of a class to see my painting and was stunned to see that most of the others were different, I mean DIFFERENT from what the teacher was teaching us. I became aware at the moment that we all "see" differently.

I did reach out to painting friends for suggestions, art groups to join, teachers to check out and received in return nothing. Not one response. I guess art, like writing is a lonely endeavor. What Van Gogh wrote about over 100 years ago is still true. Art is a lonely road. 

I am not giving up by any means, in fact just created some of my neatest birdhouses yet. There are also two paintings waiting to be done and so ... life moves on.

Please visit KrugsStudio to see my new letterbox and birdhouses. Birds in space?

No comments:

Post a Comment