Monday, June 9, 2014

Remembering Art Class

I came across something the other day that gave me quite a shock. I found an old pencil drawing I had done sometime around the age of twenty. I'd bought a sketchpad and a book on drawing and had spent some time doodling and playing, much of it at the table in the back of our house (given some of the subject matter in the sketchpad, like an aluminum Jon boat and a duck) where I could look out the window and draw whatever I spotted.
One of my many masterpieces

It's no Michelangelo, and yet the first thing I thought when I saw it for the first time after many years was, "Hunh, that's not bad." But it did bring back memories, mostly of the elective art class I took in high school, and the teacher, Ms. Tarrant.

The high school I graduated from required two art classes. I'd already taken one at my old school, and the one I took at my new school was rather bland. But, the elective was exciting. We were the kids who really dug art, and Ms. Tarrant was about the nicest teacher you could ever imagine. I still remember how she always wore her red hair in the same bouffant every day. And one time she called in a substitute teacher because she lived near the zoo, and one of the lions had escaped and was somewhere in her neighborhood and she didn't want to leave the house. I couldn't really blame her for that one.

Anyway, she let us listen to whatever music we wanted, which usually ended up being The Ramones or heavy metal. She would tolerate a rather generous portion of time listening to it before she let us know she couldn't take it any more, and then she'd put on her own tape. She always put on Neil Diamond. When I hear Neil Diamond, I always go back to that room and the smell of paint and charcoal.

We worked with all sorts of media in that class. One time I made about ten or a dozen airbrushed prints using the same star-like shape over and over, just experimenting with colors and how I laid out the pattern. I entered the best piece and a couple of other pieces in an art show and, just for the heck of it, assigned prices to them in case anybody wanted to buy one. To my surprise, I sold that airbrush piece. Apparently a little girl saw it and loved it and wanted to put it up in her bedroom because she loved stars. I imagined my piece framed and hanging up in a room somewhere, maybe surrounded by teddy bears or unicorns, or lots of books. That was the best feeling, that I had made something I liked and that somebody else liked, too.

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