Life As Art

As an art teacher I was “influenced” this year (told!) to come up with a recipe-art-plan that could be given to parents so that they may know in advance what their child was going to do in art this year.  Dear me.  I don’t even know what I’m going to do in art this year.  Who wants to know?  Art to me has always been self-discovery.  And, luckily, I’ve created monsters of my school kids who want no part of this recipe-plan.

Sure, I have an idea.  I’m full of ideas.  That’s the whole point.  My job is to throw out ideas until they throw them back with a solution.  Why stick to a plan when the mind can create and grow on its own insights?  This, after all, isn’t math.  Not to say I don’t have my own prejudices and opinions.  I certainly can tell you when it’s not finished.  I can tell you when you’re taking the easy way out.  I can see fear of failure.  Take a chance!  That I can teach.  Then you teach it back to me.

Art isn’t just a cluster of skills.  Anyone can learn to draw.  If you can see you can draw.  That’s the easy part.  But what do you see?  How does the way you see have an effect on me?  And why do I want to look at this?

We are inundated with the visual.  Bombarded by every turn.  We are so tired of looking at things on TV that are designed to go so fast you can hardly see them.  I find it irritating.

So don’t offer us a Xerox copy of life and expect it to interest us.  Art is interpretation.  Just as in life we don’t know what to expect next, so it is with true art.  Life is not craft, something with a known outcome.  Life is not paint by numbers.  Life is the messy affair of experimentation and chance.  There is no failure in art.  And just as in life, there is no messing up.  Just work the problem to its end and if it’s not what you want, try again.  Do something different.  Every endeavor in art is a guide to the next endeavor.  Knowing what you don’t want to do again is as valuable as your successes.  In life and in art.  There is no such thing as failure.  That I can teach.