Last night or rather this morning, I had a very poignant dream. I woke up thinking, gosh, if I could go back in time I wouldn't have changed what I studied in college or where I went to college, I would have changed what I had done in high school which would have changed what I studied in college and where!
I had a dream that I was in Paris. And I had this feeling like I should have pursued art.
As a child I had the gift. I loved art. I loved drawing.
You know, I'm pretty disappointed in society today because they place so little emphasis on the arts. Everywhere -- although, I'm told that in Indonesia there is a higher emphasis on the arts with children.
I always wanted to take an art class. But it wasn't until 8th grade that they finally offered an art class in school. Until then, I had finally convinced my mom that I was good enough to take an art class.
She had me taking piano lessons for years even though I showed very little improvement - and had little interest in practicing.
But she said I was always a good drawer and kept several of my childhood drawings which I look back on and in amazement say to myself - "I drew that - that's really good"
She met a local artist in Minden, Nevada named Michelle Gabler and asked her if she would give me private lessons. She agreed to and that was a wonderful time.
Then I entered high school. I couldn't wait to take art classes. I signed up for one and I enjoyed all our assignments. But after ninth grade I did not continue with art. Why?
Grades. Grades are a horrible way to encourage the individual. I kept getting grades that told me I suck or I am not as good as that other girl and therefore, I shouldn't pursue this anymore. So, after that year was over, I never took another art class again until college.
I do remember one time in 12th grade being on the bus with a bunch of other students and teachers going to a field trip in Sparks, Nevada - something to do with the gaming industry and seeing that art teacher from ninth grade... and she stopped me and asked me: you were really good at art - why didn't you continue?
I was a little bit shocked. I was defensive. I was upset in that moment. I was good? Why didn't she tell me in ninth grade then? I told her: You gave me grades that were not good. C's - average. I felt like I was better than a lot of other students in my group. They told me I was really good. But you never did. You were always doting on that one really good student. So I never continued.
I don't know how she took the comment. The conversation ended. I think she thought about it. Here she had the opportunity to help shape me as a student but all her focus was on the best student in the class... not enough on all the other students that were still needing help but were good like me. I'm sure I wasn't the only one.
Hopefully, from that day forward, she changed the way she graded.... but then again, that's a problem with the system. They should just get rid of grades all together.
Instead it should just be feedback you get. Like after you complete an assignment, the teacher should say: you are really getting this. I see a lot of improvement. I think you should keep going with art.
Or she should say: I see you are struggling with this assignment. I've noticed from our conversations that you really enjoy art, so let's keep working on your technique so you can keep going with art, if that's what you want.
I think teachers should know you personally. Actually talk to you. What do you love. Do you love to draw - is that why you took this class? Or do you love art but aren't really good at it - but you still love it. You know, those people could go one to study art history....
Anyway, that's one of the biggest problems is that it's not very personal - and the grading system... and the fact that schools don't put a lot of emphasis on the arts in the first place.
Now, I'm a mom, I live in a society that doesn't put a lot emphasis on the arts - although in tourism they do! I live in Eindhoven, the Netherlands. The emphasis here is - technological. But right next door to Eindhoven is Nuenen - the van Gogh village... And that town is soaking up every little bit of that... he lived there for a time and I think this is the village he lived in when he painted The Potato Eaters. Not his best work, in my opinion, but it was his first work that emerged him as an up and coming artist.
I had heard about the van Abbe Museum, our local art museum in Eindhoven, giving art classes to children on the weekends. I think I need to look back into that.
This dream I had - I can't do much about it. I can't go back in time and change what I studied in high school or college.... but I have children - and two of my kids so far are really good at art and drawing. They love it. They spend hours drawing sometimes - they are very focused and just love to draw. And when you ask them, what do you want to be or what do you want to do when you grow up? The oldest one says, I want to be an artist - to draw. So we say, like an illustrator. Then we explain what that word means. The younger one says, I want to be a painter. Not painting houses, but an artist - a painter.
When I hear those things, I'm happy, they got the artist gene which is very much a live in this family... and then I think, I need to do something about that because in school here you will learn your A,B,C's, to read, to write, math, etc. etc. All of the emphasis on the arts is limited in schools.
So, it's up to the parent to help them continue to progress. And luckily, there are art programs around, you just have to recognize that your child is good enough to continue...
Maybe, that's what the dream meant for me.
*I just googled Michelle Gabler... here is what I found, she is now on the board of directors for Carson Valley Arts council. That's pretty cool. She still operates out of her studio, which was in a garage behind her house on 1st street.
**It's not too late for me. van Gogh only started pursuing art seriously in his twenties. And it wasn't even until the last two years of his life that his best works were produced. Therefore, I can keep pursuing my love for art, and by the time I'm dead, my children or children's children will have some fantastic art to display in their homes :-)
***Some of my art for sale can be seen here - artist rising - although, the most recent stuff rarely get's seen. Oh well. Someday, when I have the time, when I'm not busy with children and laundry... I'll have time to put my work up online on more of a regular basis.