I'm a few days into the summer break now (heaven!!), with two more classes at the tail end of Summer Term under my belt. I've talked with other students both near and far and they say that my feelings towards dropping out and wondering just what the hell I'm doing in college are pretty normal. I may as well continue; it's not a completely useless and heinous endeavor. As long as there are loans and grants I suppose I'll keep on with it.
Painting class was a huge disappointment. I read somewhere once that disappointment is a term used for lovers. I am having to adjust my expectations right and left around the majority of art classes I've taken so far (which, granted, aren't so many). I learned more from reading and watching tutorials on the internet than I did from our instructor, a friendly enough fellow but very taciturn (shy? uninterested?). The class amounted to paying for a studio space, with occasional commentary and still-life set-ups. And long bouts of absenteeism (what is with instructors leaving the room for twenty or thirty or forty minutes at a time? Several times per class? Every class period?) When I fired off questions as to technique and expressed interest in looking at painters whose work I find really exciting (so as to gain some knowledge about how they do that!):
"You sure have a lot of questions."
When I probed further to ask if any of those questions were to be addressed, I was answered vaguely, "Sure, we'll go over a bit about gel medium........"
I talked with several other student to take the temperature of their views on the class and basically we are in agreement. About the 'non-teaching' aspect of it.
I understand that there is no substitute for just doing the work, for practicing, and lots of it. Experimenting, exploring, and all the rest. I also better understand why so many artists are self-taught. And, I'm learning to give myself more credit for my own process and progress. What I really want is to be in class with an instructor who is excited about teaching and encourages personal style and pushing those edges. One who is actually present in class and engaged with the students. I don't want someone to hold my hand or yak the entire session......As an artist I spend a fair amount of time alone in the studio (duh). I guess what I'd really like is a mentor and to study under someone whose ego isn't the size of a dirigible. I want a personal connection and for that, I've been looking to my fellow students, which is great - and I still want to be taught by someone like Walt Stanchfield.
Thank god that Tom Madison was our intermediate drawing instructor - that four-week front-end summer course was awesome. Tom is definitely into teaching and into his craft. That classroom experience was closest to what I remember about being in school as a kid, and what I loved so much about being a student. Enthusiasm is contagious, and we all like to be encouraged (and not with empty praise). Tom gave drawing demos if we cared to watch and talked about art in a way that made sense to me. He stayed in class! "Composition trumps skill" was one of his mainstays. And he stated in the syllabus and throughout the class that he wanted us to continue developing our own methods and style. So I know these people do exist, even at the community college. And that what I want from an instructor isn't beyond the pale.
So today I'm going to the library to see if there are any good books on painting. And I'll keep scrubbing around on canvases to see what I come up with. I would really like to buckle down and study one thing for a span of time but the way I operate is like buckshot fired from a rifle: I'm all over the place and I like so many different mediums.
I'm so inspired by the following artists these past few days and weeks!!!