2017 is the year for my first’s of many things. My first solo show in March, my first in establishing en plain aire group, my first in drawing from life (maybe not my first but certainly has been years since I’ve drawn from a model), but nothing gave me more growth than teaching my first class in art.
It is certainly a challenge to describe how to do something that is completely visual and put it into words. In fact, I have stated many times that art is an entirely different language, one that we are born with but must relearn as adults. So as time went on and I started at the very beginning I began to realize what it was I was teaching. For although as adults we forget that we are artist, my job was simply to remind them.
Teaching art techniques involved a boat load of elements but the one thing anyone of us needs to become artist is something that we are all born with. First, I showed them color theory, values scales, texture, and form. Then I preached about how drawing and practicing everyday can sharpen their painting skills. To this, I know I can also tell them to the study the old masters and visit art galleries and art studios and read all the books they
can. I can speak for hours about my process from start to finish. I can show countless pictures of my progress with my artwork. I can tell them to visit museums and take classes to further develop and understand the techniques behind painting, but…..without the love of the subtle nuances of light or the awareness of the frailty of the moment or the intensity of an emotion art looses its meaning.
Technical skill is an important language to learn but learn it so that you can describe the magic of 3 am or the gaze of an infant only hours old or the haunting stare of a dementia patient. Use it to describe the joy of living or the depths of your pain or the desires of your heart. Use it to muse the hardships of the drug addicted or homelessness or the saints that works with both. Use it to contemplate the eternity and immorality of your life among the stars. Use it to describe the poetry of your life. Appreciation for life both in good and bad, is the beginning and the spark for creating art. In this last point, we are all born with the ability to love life.
To teach them was also to remind myself of this very point. So much of the time I get wrapped up in making things perfect I forget that perfection is an illusion that can never be achieved and I loose my focus as to what my personal purpose is for making art. This leaves me quite drained and lost. Every week when I see the enthusiasm of the students when they hold their brushes in hand and the joy they have while in the process of making art pulls me back into the realm of art making I need to be. It is simply the reflection of the present moment and the appreciation of the miracle of life as it is. And for this I thank them because without this growth in spirit I become a machine that paints pictures with no depth. This is not my art and this is not me.