Sunday, February 7, 2010

Still more early art adventures

When I was in grade school, Ms Cassida was the art teacher that would visit our school from time to time and give us art classes. These visits were my favorite part of school. Her visits represented a break in the ordinary events of the school day and I always looked forward to the time she shared with us. She would start the class with showing us a model/demonstration of the art project we were going to create and then walk around helping us individually as we got started creating our art. I was always so impressed with the work she did and she seemed like a sort of god with all the beautiful things she was able to create. I loved when she would come beside me and guide my hand when doing some drawing or commenting on my work in progress.
Ms Cassida was my art teacher through fifth grade and when I think back into my formative experiences around art, fifth grade was an important time for me.To give a bit of background, my community was a consolidated school district of a few small towns and their surrounding rural areas and for a time, all the fifth grade students were in one school, the old high school.This year was really exciting as it represented a change from being in class with the same students all year every year to mixing with dozens of new faces and moving to different classes for math, literature, art and physical education. My friend Frannie Curtis knew I loved to draw and she told me I should checkout the drawings of another student, Jonah Cagley. Jonah was what could be called a child prodigy. He could draw accurate realistic representations of people and pretty much anything he wanted as far as I could tell.He was often being invited to birthday parties and being asked to draw superheros and such for the host,which I imagine got quite tiresome for him after a time. When I saw his work I was amazed and intimidated, I saw my own as quite pitiful and I think ,having internalized all the messages around me about comparing myself to others in order to place myself along the worst to best continuum that is encouraged by most of society, I gave up the idea of being an artist on some level. I seem to have decided that since there was no way I could be the best at art after seeing Jonah's work, I lost my enthusiasm for drawing little by little. At the same time, art became divorced from my school day in junior high and high school as art became something you signed up for as an elective. That decision about drawing remained until I dropped out of university after my second year, unhappy with the path that I was on and unsure of what I really wanted for my life. Dropping out gave me the time to clean out a lot of the garbage I had taken on in my life and this cleansing left space for my love of art to come back into focus. That was over 16 years ago. I have written a bit about starting off on my journey of learning to draw through some resources such as Cameron's The Artist's Way and Edwards' Drawing on the Right side of the Brain. I also found some local art classes useful until I decided to go back to university and study full time. One thing that remains clear out of this and what I think others can glean from my experience is that it is never too late to start. What have you given up on? What seems like it is too late to start? I encourage you to revisit those dreams you gave up on , dust them off, update them for your life now and make a step toward them.


  1. Yikes! The guilt of introducing you to Jonah and having that cause a crisis in confidence for you! I had no idea...and I apologize.

  2. I would say that the cultural norms of judging ourselves against others is the culprit, nothing to do really with me seeing the wonderous achievements of another person.