The long process of education

Art education is a weird thing. 
 
Practising still life and trying out a medium
I never worked in before - Oil Pastels

I don't remember much of mine, or at least not much worthy of the term 'education'. We painted or drew the same things every year - something abstract in the autumn, the vineyards you could see outside the window in the winter ("Don't draw the walls as worms!"), cherry trees in the spring, and some other trees or whatever was manageable in the time that was left until the summer break. We got marks based on how much the teacher liked our picture, and I swear that I didn't learn a single thing about techniques or forms or values or composition or anything at all that I can remember now.



I also always got disappointing grades - except I started to expect them and wasn't all that disappointed anymore. We switched to a substitute teacher for a while and did the same with her, except I got better grades because she liked my art more. Then we got the old teacher back, and I can't tell you how pleased I was to be able to say goodbye to my art class when we got to pick our courses for the last two years in school. 
After that decision, there was still half a year to go - during which we suddenly discussed art theory and wrote exams about that. I got good grades and the teacher gave me a surprised look. Then he had us drawing the vineyards again, and I was so fed up with the course, I just drew a landscape that was completely made up, with a couple of vineyards and huge waterfalls and a nice old village ... and I got good grades again. The teacher looked at me and said "Well, it looks like we should have tried doing art theory and more freedom in the artwork years ago, huh?". I rolled my eyes and turned around, and I didn't mourn for an art class during the next two years.

I did mourn the fact that I wasn't studying art when I was studying for my actual exams at university, because the nicest places in the university library where in the art section, and when I got there early, I spend my day sitting among interesting art books, boring myself to death with statistics. 
And I mourn that fact now, even though I would still make the same choice. But now the internet has told me how art education is done in other countries. How students have to prepare big projects and work on them at home and develop ideas ... I know it must be awful if you're not interested in art, but I can't begin to tell you how much I would have preferred that kind of education. To be judged on my ideas and their execution and the thought and work I put into something, instead of guesswork about how much my cherry tree looked like another cherry tree outside. To be given the freedom to experiment with media - I can tell you now that I must have used Gouache and Watercolour and Acrylics and Charcoal - but I can't remember a fucking thing, and I've had to learn all the techniques again. I'd never drawn people, I'd never used pastels, I didn't know how to blend ... the list goes on. 

What I miss the most is learning about building a project. Because now I have ideas, and no knowledge in place of what to do with them. I have to learn developing ideas with the cool ideas I have now, and therefore it is taking me ages to get somewhere, and it is unbelievably tedious and dificult to sit down after a long day at work when you just want to draw to say 'No, I'm not going to draw, I'm going to learn how to use this medium or that technique', just so I can learn what I have to in order to bring my original ideas to life. I'm not saying that I'm not enjoying the learning process, but I will say that I dislike the fact that I never learned this before. 
 
Here's an AS Art Exam Sketchbook from a UK student
showing the kind of process I would have loved to learn.

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