Thursday, January 28, 2010


I went to the Art Supply store today…it’s a place where I can usually relax and enjoy prowling the aisles for new treasures.

Today it was a mad house-new term starting at colleges everyone scrambling to grab the stuff on their class lists.

I don’t know if I miss teaching or not…there are times when I think it’s all I would like to do and other times (like today) I just see it as an intrusion on my own personal voyage of discovery.

I never mind answering a question, I usually preface any answer with a solid “In my opinion…”

A young lady was filling her cart and frantically searching for this and that on the paint aisle…I could see she was really confused so I asked her if she was finding everything she needed.
She looked around (grateful I think that I was more like a Grandpa and less like someone who was hitting on her) and asked me about some paint colours.

WHY do teachers who KNOW how expensive it is to even attend school these days ask for colours like Cadmiums?

There are perfectly acceptable student grade substitutions for half the price especially these days- we aren’t in the studios of the Florentine Renaissance.
This young lady had not one but THREE Cad colours and one was orange…ridiculous!

I asked her what class this stuff was for and she told me ART ONE…I gently explained to her that these paint colours were quite expensive and she should consider buying a similar colour for half the price, I also asked her what her major was and would she be doing more art classes?

She didn’t know yet to all of the above!

I asked her if I could look at the list again and doing some quick calculations she had at least $250.00 in supplies she was responsible for and might never use again.
I considered for a moment suggesting she might try a drawing class or anything that didn’t cost as much as this one did but instead I found the Liquitex and grabbed the colours she needed, dropped them in her cart and went on my way.

More annoyed FOR her than by her I began to question my own feelings that we should always encourage artistic exploration rather than stand in the way of anyone discovering ART!

I have often given ART KITS to people who might have never toughed the items but at least they owned them and could use them is the muse whispered.

With the state of the economy, the high cost of most everything and the lack of art education in public schools I suppose anyone needs to take a chance on an art class-in my day it was required for a good well rounded education to take at least one art class (remember all those prerequisites?).

The college system in California has always been a bit stodgy and rigid-I hope things have changed but as they stood the rules said if I couldn’t prove I had taken ART ONE or DESIGN 1A I would have to repeat them.

A friend of mine some years back decided he wanted to take a class at the local community college and would I go with him for support-I had the stuff so I paid the 25 bucks for the ASB card and went.

The teacher immediately noticed I was a bit ahead of the class (Drawing one) and was I in the wrong place?

I explained why I was there and that I could always stand to learn something from a new teacher so he let me stay but tailored the course to my needs (quietly) and avoided showing my work in the class critiques…I don’t think anyone was the wiser, my friend gave up art for computers and I was off the hook.

The point to this is I couldn’t have gone to the advanced classes because I couldn’t prove I had taken the prerequisites.

As it happened I hadn't because at my art school there was no drawing one-art schools seldom offer such a thing, it's insulting, if you can't draw why are you in ART SCHOOL???

I started in Life drawing 2 and classes like colour and composition for designers.

There is no time, budget or easy road around the requirements-in art school one submitted a portfolio and from there the curriculum was designed for the student-classes that were redundant avoided.

At the local community college, not so much…

I’ve taught at the local community college and often tell the tale of giving a class in design for the Theatre which appealed for some reason to the male students (less prissy than saying they had a watercolour class I suppose).

I told them all that if they were fulfilling a requirement for Fine Arts classes to take a pass fail, turn in the work and they would pass and only serious ART students should take the class for a letter or number grade.

I started with 29 students, 2 dropped and of the remaining 27 I failed 21.

This wouldn’t have been a problem but they were all varsity ball players and I had rendered the Baseball team’s first string ineligible to play since they were carrying a failing grade---OOOPSY!!!

Of course out of fairness I offered to do a make-up class but what they wanted was a class full of Ds which I refused (how is it fair to the six who struggled through and did the work to pass people who had done NOTHING?).

In the end the board of education over ruled me and passed the little buggers and I left higher education for my own little world---the rest is history.

What struck me is that I don’t even know if any of those people who were passed despite not attending my class even bothered to buy anything on the required supply list?

I certainly hope not because as I remember I asked for Cad RED.

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