bottom of the class

I have always dabbled in art. When I was young, back before I decided for sure to become a teacher, I thought about what was then called “commercial art.” My high school began a “Winterim” program my junior year, consisting of weeks between the first and second semester where students could pursue interests and experiences outside the normal realm of academics. That year I did an independent study with my fabulous art teacher. I loved every minute of it, but it was then that I decided it was very hard to produce inspiration on demand.

Yet the desire to create remained in me.  I love decorating my home. I have addressed invitations and created prints using calligraphy. I have made artwork and signs galore for school, and rarely have I used “stock” bulletin boards in my classroom. We have given many handmade birthday and Christmas gifts along the way, and we have made our own Christmas cards for almost thirty years.

My daughter is now a fabulous graphic designer who owns her own paper business. (I used to say “stationery business,” but with her prints and other designs it has become much more than that. Because of all these new ideas she is currently rebranding her website but you can get an idea here.  She allowed me to get in on the fun and took some little watercolor drawings I made and turned them into a line of notecards.  Each one is hand-glittered, too, and the line is called… can you guess? Firefly.

That was so encouraging I decided to take a watercolor class and develop my “talent” there. Yikes!! The main thing I learned is that watercolor (for me) is very, VERY hard! I did enjoy the class, and each week it met from 6-9 in the evening. The instructor would do a short lesson or demo, and then give us the rest of the time to paint as she came around for individual help. I would look at my watch about 6:45 and think, “What am I going to do for the next two hours?” But knowing it had boiled down to the paper, the paint, and me, I set to work, and learned so much. I even created a couple of pieces I am pleased with.

Last year a friend invited me to her home one afternoon to make some collages. I loved that, too, and had a gazillion ideas spring into my head about what to do with this art form. I even had two collages printed on canvas, and was pleased with those results. But somehow I haven’t found the time to continue. Or perhaps the perfectionist in me knows that collage, too, is hard work, and I will not create something I like with every work that I attempt, so I have placed that on the “back burner,” along with all the other art ideas I have had.

Recently I have pursued yet another artistic endeavor. Watching my daughter work has inspired me to learn about computer art, so I am currently taking a class in Adobe Illustrator. I basically want to be able to use the computer to take quotes and sayings I have collected through the years and be able to make prints, bookmarks, and posters with this program.  I have only been to class twice, but I have learned so much already.

I have learned that I only thought I was computer literate. I have learned that intuitive programs are not always necessarily so. I have learned that watercolor is a snap next to this.  I have learned that somewhere there are some very interesting minds that have created vector art. I have learned that every tool you click on has twenty more tools hidden inside it.

This class has already taught me that I am old. Thank goodness I sit next to a very kind young woman. She has helped me so much already that last week I told her I was going to have to pay her as well as the instructor. Before class we were chatting and I discovered that she and I had graduated from the same high school. When I asked what year she graduated, I found out that she finished school exactly thirty years after I did.

And now I know what the struggling readers that I work with at school feel like. I know how it feels to think that everyone else around you knows more than you do. I know how embarrassing it can be to ask a simple question about step one when the class seems to be on step seventeen. And I know how it feels to want to just give up. But I still hold fast to my dreams and I hope I’ll be able to master this someday. There’s joy in this journey and I am determined to learn all that I can.

2 thoughts on “bottom of the class

  1. Tara says:

    I think it really helps to approach this as you have – that you are on a learning journey and some things will be easy while others require much more effort. Sharing that understanding with our kids is so important – we need to model the journey for our kids, right?

  2. elsie says:

    You are a life-long learner, so enjoy this new endeavor. I think it is interesting that you continue to pursue something that you find difficult because you have an interest and purpose for what you are doing. You are doing something with rigor. Wonder what would happen if we could get all our students to have the desire to learn what we are teaching? Hmmmm. . .

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