I’m Still Learning



Oh Boy. I have not been doing any of my own artwork lately. I took a job. I’m teaching art to elementary school and junior high school kids. I got the job through the Madera Arts Council and I’m teaching in the Madera schools.

It’s a big job and it’s given me a whole new respect for teachers in general. We do a lot of work outside of class that we don’t get paid for. But the kids are wonderful. Oh sure they act up once in a while but they’re all really sweet and some are really talented and the others just like to draw whatever I set before them. What’s not to like about Art Class, right?

What I’m Really Teaching

I have had to introduce the concept of “yet”. As in “I’m no good …. yet”. I do not believe in letting those mind games take over so I tell those kids that I don’t like it when they say This is Ugly or I Can’t Draw. I say let’s think about it another way. Why is it ugly? Maybe ugly is not the right word. Maybe it’s This isn’t what I had in mind. Or It isn’t what I wanted. Those things are curable. I tell them I’ll help you fix it. Sometimes I quote Georgia O’Keefe who said no one is good at the beginning. Practice practice practice.

So “I can’t draw” is out. “I can’t draw… yet” is in. We never stop practicing. I’m 65 years old and I’m still learning.

Sometimes our project is doing scratchers. The paper is coated and you scratch off the surface to reveal what is underneath. It’s not as easy as you might think. You have to plan ahead because once you’ve made a line you can’t erase it. When that happens I say well how can we remedy this? Maybe there’s a way to camouflage the mistake.

I’m hoping that once I get my chops down and a repeating curriculum set I will be able to go back to doing my own drawings. I’m thinking November.

6 thoughts on “I’m Still Learning”

    1. Thank you! I’ve never put so much thought into art. Except for a few concepts it’s always been intuitive for me so the thinking is really interesting. What is your process for the poetry you do?

  1. Renee, sorry delayed reply. I cannot explain my “process” to me. But my overall feeling is that the teacher can give some techniques to the student, and most importantly a good teacher can bring a student closer to his or her soul where the art stems from. Very few teachers are good at that. Perhaphs instilling the trust in kids, the trust in themselves that art is within them, within the silence in each one of us, if we can only access it.
    I wish you best luck and much patience, Renee. I know how challenging teaching is from schooling my own kids. It requires more than just teaching.

    1. No es problema, chica. You’re 100% right. I also think that a good teacher gives the students ideas about how to look at things. And sometimes unusual ways to accomplish their goals. Today we did “cave” paintings. I told them about the people that lived 30,000 years ago who made “art” a priority. To give the effect of “rock” I told them to crumple their drawings. Boy, were they surprised! It works and I think their minds were opened to a different way of thinking.

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