Archives For Art Room Parables

Art Has An Image Problem

December 12, 2012

jpFriends, I’m posting my last update at Prodigal Magazine for the year. (January is going to bring some big changes.) Join me at my Art Room Parables column after the preview!

Art has an image problem.

I was reminded of that over the last few months, as I tried to lead a classroom of teenagers through several hundred years of art history.

To me, it is a labor of love to lead children in creative pursuits.  And the same is true in opening young eyes to the vast, wonderful world of human creativity.

But I can never predict the audience reaction.  Just as frequently that a piece of art would inspire and amaze, another would fall flat.  Cries of “I could do that!” or “That’s not real art!” would cut through my attempts at explanation.  I would try to reason with them, try to communicate the artist’s intent.  But when my students were resolved, there was no changing their minds.

“Those are just scribbles!”

Art, I am reminded, has an image problem.

Continue reading and comment at Prodigal Magazine.

How I Became a Creative Genius

November 28, 2012

copyingHey friends, join me today at Prodigal Magazine, where I’m posting on my Art Room Parables column. Check the preview here, and click the link below to join the conversation.

“He’s copying me!”

Teachers hear that phrase a lot.  It’s usually spoken in a whiny, nails-on-a-chalkboard sort of way.

We usually teach kids not to copy others.

Don’t look at someone’s else’s test.  That’s cheating.

Don’t mimic others’ behavior.  Whenever a kid accuses another of mimicking them, I tell them to just sit quietly, and the other student will have nothing to mimic.  That usually doesn’t work.

The problem is that while we don’t want kids to cheat or plagiarize, the real adult world really is about copying, mimicking and stealing quite a bit.  In fact, if you ever plan to contribute anything of value to the world, you should probably get comfortable with stealing a bit.

Continue reading at Prodigal Magazine.

Join me today at Prodigal Magazine for another installment of my Art Room Parables column. Read the preview here, then click over and joinmake the conversation.

As we enter the holiday season, the attitude at school changes.

The excitement grows.

There is anticipation in the air.

Kids are always a little bit antsy.  A little bit extra squirrely while we teachers try to make them continue to work and learn.

Why do the holidays bring out such a change in children?

Because the holidays are, unfortunately, not the season of satisfaction, but the season of want, of unmatcheddesire.  Children everywhere are making their lists, not of things they will give, but things they are hoping to receive.  We are taught from a young age to buy, to consume, to want constantly, to never be satisfied.

And with this feverish desire to consume hovering in the air, it reminds me of yet another lesson that I hope children can learn (and I can remember) in the art room.

Continue reading at Prodigal Magazine.

Today, you can find me over at Prodigal Magazine, writing on my Art Room Parables column. Check out the preview here, and then join the artconversation!

Remember the days when you went to school.  Probably once a week, you had art class.  You drew and painted and explored and created.

And then you took your work home, proud and eager to show Mom.  And she would gush over it and tell you how proud she was of you.  She might even hang it on the fridge.

Every day that I spend with kids in the art room, I assume this will be the final destination of nearly every project we complete together.  As we paint and draw, the work being done needs to be seen.  It needs to be shared.  Every time I hang a class’s work outside the room, I always get lots of compliments from parents and teachers.  It feels good to be the art teacher.  When the kids’ work looks good, I look good.

So I was surprised recently when a mother came through my door to say, “I am so sorry about my daughter’s project.  It’s embarrassing!”  She let out a laugh as she left my room and walked past her her daughter’s work, hanging with the rest of her class.

What kind of mother would call her own daughter’s artwork embarrassing, much less tell her daughter this?

Could this mother actually be doing her daughter some kind of huge favor?

Continue reading at Prodigal Magazine.

Today, we’re taking a little break from the blog series, because I’m back again at my regularly scheduled post at Prodigal Magazine. Check out the preview of my latest from my Art Room Parables column, and then head over to join the conversation. We’ll be back to the blog series on Friday, and ever closer to the book giveaway next week.

You would think I was teaching a room full of potato-headed children.self-portrat

Seriously, self-portraits are a tough thing to teach kids. We invite them to look at themselves, and recreate what they see. Most of them end up with potato shaped heads…and a lot of other bizarre physical maladies. A couple of them look as if they need an exorcist. Those are the drawings that don’t go on display. They quietly find their way to the bottom of the stack.

It doesn’t matter that I show them all the mathematical proportions they can use to make their faces come out right. We’ll just have to call these portraits “abstract.”

The problem most younger kids have is that they are too stuck on their “Plan A.” That’s why their heads look like vegetables.

It turns out that adults that hold too tightly onto their Plan A don’t usually have vegetable shaped heads, but they aren’t too happy in life either.

Finish reading at Prodigal Magazine.

Yesterday, I was at Prodigal Magazine, and my Art Room Parables column.  If you missed it, check out the preview below, and join the conversation at Prodigal.  

talent“I just don’t want to draw anymore.”

Every once in a while, a kid has to make a choice.  Which activity to do after school, which friends to spend time with, which talent to pursue and nurture.  There are only so many hours of the day.

Naturally, as the art teacher, I try to keep kids interested in art as long as possible.  I know that most of them will drop it eventually. But when a kid is trying to make a choice about whether to take art classes or join the soccer team, I try to get them to see things my way.  You’ll have sports for a few years, maybe you’ll even play in college if you’re lucky.  But you can have art forever.

I wasn’t prepared for this response though:

“No one else is doing it.”

Simple, direct, and airtight logic based entirely on the fact that kids are so good at viewing themselves through the lens of how their peers see them.

How do I argue with that?

Finish reading at Prodigal Magazine.

I’m out the rest of the week at Catalyst.  See you next Monday!