Sunday, August 05, 2007

Art (Continued)

Part of my problem with Art and the Art world, was the nasty shock that I got when I realized that I would have to get out there and peddle my biz in the real world. The real world, as seen from my admittedly limited student eye view at State college in Albq NM, was not pretty. First, I was active in AA almost my entire higher educationated career, and the bulk of the profs handing out the A's, holding the hands, and coddling the careers of students were doing so primarily... with those they socialized with.

And by socialized with, I really mean partied with. As a recovering alky, I didn't party, and I didn't get the A's except for the ones I eked out with sheer guts. (please note: it couldn't possibly have anything to do with me sucking at art. No problem with ego HERE!) Nobody held my hand, and when I ran into a road block, I don't recall any one but my parents even blinking when I dropped out. At the end of my Junior freaking year.

Add to this, the semester that I found my "voice."

Remember last post, the Advanced Painting instructor? He was the MAN according to everyone who was anyone, and when I started that semester, I kow towed to the "process" the man preached. And I got "A+'s" on my first three paintings. BUT, then I took to heart his preaching about finding my own "voice" so I started looking for it.

What I found, was my original palette, and my first instincts. The way that I first painted, before my "education". There was not one single prof at that school ever even talked about glazing, or realism, or master studies... or anything classical. If you figured out how to make a human being LOOK like a human being, you lucked into it or found it somewhere, or from someone else. Maybe from a book. A portrait? It was too passe- what were we? Some bunch of "hack portrait artists" sitting on a sidewalk, trying to swing a buck? NO! We were ARTISTS of HIGH ART. At least that seems like the subtext, between what was taught and what was notably absent from the curriculum.

In retrospect, I went back to my first instincts, because... why the crap not? It's not like I had been taught anything better. It's not like I had anything like a honed craft, or any craft at that point. Art was purely a mental and verbal exercise for me by then.

So me with my "voice", thinking I'm all that and a bottle of Liquin, hits my final critique. Which is funny, because I don't have any recollection of the critique going south. I recall the prof not saying much, I recall it was a pretty cut and dry affair... and I recall thinking that I had done "A" work straight down the line. And then I got my grades. According to the paperwork, I'd pulled down a "C" in that class.




Starting to get a little angry. I'm fairly sure that I would have left it, except I had a scholarship to keep, and that semester, I was walking a fine line with my GPA... I needed a "B-" to hold onto the scholarship. I went to the profs studio to talk to him about the grade. First I asked him about his grading scale... seven paintings, I knew the first two were "A+'s", the next was an "A"... what the CRAP went on that I limped in with a "C" after grades like that? Why hadn't he indicated to me that I was blowing the course?

He told me it was just a judgement call, and that if I disagreed, he'd change the grade. Please imagine my horror and how furious I was when he handed back my "change grade" slip, to find that he'd written in "B+." Judgement call? From a "C" to a "B+"? I was so angry I started crying, and then I was so mad I was crying... I just left. Truly, the beginning of the end for me.

Since then I have learned more on my own, and through books. I have started working from a bit more of a sophisticated palette, and I do what I do for a reason. Or... rather, I DID, before this child induced hiatus. But I can tell you for sure that I will never get my sorry can out there and peddle my biz. I'm lazy, plus I really don't feel like I have much of anything original to say with art... and what I DO say don't sit so pretty over the sofa, if ya know what I mean.

Reading back over this, it seems like I am saying that I was done dirty... and yeah, to an extent I was. But I also know that I was the one to walk away, and that I did not have to. The fact is... it was a choice. There was simply not enough in that version of the world of art to hold me there. The world of Academia and University Art Departments are hardly the be all of anything, no matter how mucho serioso everyone involved seems to think they are. Today there are so many outlets for my creativity, brains, and sense of humor; not the least of which is in the raising of three little artist girls of my own.

Birdie has entered into a stage of progression that is far less about observed reality than it is about the story aspect of art. Her figures have reverted to a simplified form, the expression of the face usually being the only detail given notice. Her drawings are the vehicles of speech and thought bubbles filled with laboriously spelled out words. Although she has decided that eyes are not just round circles... she says they are pointy ovals, and she fills them with irises and pupils, giving them a fringe of lashes. LaLa has started into people and ponies with teeny heads and colorful bodies... sometimes twelve legs, and Pearl is all about the process of sitting down in LaLa's booster seat, and calling out "pih-tuh!" until I fetch the paper and crayons. She will then go through every color she can get her dimpled hands on, and color every square inch of her "payy-puh" a muddy rainbow. When they crayons go in the yap, we are done.

The many daily drawing sessions with Chaos are such a frenetic affair, with the fetching, sharpening, the spelling, and admiring going on all at once- I never get past sharpening a pencil for myself before it is done. But I really cannot regret where I am right now. As y'all have pointed out, I get to quilt and make cakes and garden... these things scratch the worst of the itch,and the rest will wait till later. And the rest that waits? Who knows whether it will have much of anything to do with paint and brushes?

Cause, I am thinking about that novel... and for some reason, the idea of peddling my writing biz does not turn my stomach the way that peddling paintings did. So yeah... fie upon Art.


elizasmom said...

Wow. What a completely disillusioning experience. But you're right, fie on "art". Whenever I come in contact with it, it seems to me like the talent required for success in that realm nowadays is for hubris and hucksterism. I love the Guggenheim museum as a building, but last time I went there I paid $15 to look at a canvas covered with dead black flies. I'll take a hack portrait artist over that any day.

As a side note, I am so curious to see your work!

Nobody™ said...

First, let me say that I can't draw a straight line, let alone a picture. I don't know much about art, but one thing about it I've never really understood is how anyone can "teach" art. Art comes from the artist, it's what they see. Any grade given to an art student is simply the instructors opinion of said students work. There is no real way to quantify it, short of hanging it in a gallery and seeing how many people love it, versus how many hate it.

But what do I know, I'm an engineer..

Tracey said...

Oh yeah. "Art" class... Unless they were teaching a technique, the grade was so confusing. Were you going for realistic? If so, that sucked. OH! You WANTED a Picasso-ish head appeal. Well then, well done. I did enjoy art classes, but I was never looking for a gpa or a grade, for that matter. More for something to enjoy while I took the English and match crap.

looney said...

I don't even see how anyone can possibly quantify art anyway, it is so subjective. I attended Savannah College of Art and Design for a year, and I had a friend who was a master at taking two wires and making the most beautiful bracelet--but he couldn't draw to save his life. My whole life, I'd been drawing. I remember in kindergarten, having my pictures passed around the teachers, the ones I drew on the back of my worksheets. Study hall was just an oppurtunity to draw the people studying around me.
Now I occasionally borrow my hubby's Playboy to stretch my sketching muscles, but there's not much else I ever do...I always think, what's the point? I'm not trying to work on my portfolio anymore...

Mama D said...

I sent you an email before I was finished reading this post. You may be wondering if I even paid attention to what you wrote. I did. I just jumped the gun a bit. I still think you could do 'your art' and people would eat it up. But what do I know?

sari said...

I love the last two paragraphs of this post, excellent.

I'd buy a book you wrote, I'll tell you that now.

jd said...

ok what is the novel about?? Give me some material to sink my teeth into.
The Art relationship is an interesting one.

Jessica G. said...

I can't produce a decent stick figure. Art is far too subjective for me. If I like, it's good. If I don't, well, someone else probably thinks it's great and that's fine, too.

As far as the novels go, getting published the first time is the hardest step. Jennifer Weiner has some great advice on her site:

the Dread Pirate Rackham said...

darling, I always thought your stuff was brilliant - but then I wasn't giving you a grade. Just so you know. I'm sad you stopped. Besides - I thought the point was to do it for you, not for the teacher, not for the grade?