Friday, January 7, 2011

Art People vs Slide People

So it's Friday night and I just took down the Christmas tree.  I know it's supposedly bad luck to leave it up past the Epiphany (though I am a firm believer in keeping it up until then - if we can put the decorations up after Halloween we can at least leave them up until the Magi got to the Baby Jesus).  But last year I diligently took everything down on January 6, thus avoiding bad luck for the year.  And I lost Baby Teysko.  So I think that whole bad-luck thing is a load of hooey, and the tree came down tonight.  Sweet - we get our living room back! But the cats are all wondering where their jungle gym went.  Bummer for them.

One of the big assignments in The Artist's Way is that you're meant to go on Artist's Dates with your Inner Artist at least once a week.  Yesterday J and I went to LACMA.  I hung out in the medieval rooms checking out various paintings, each called Madonna and Child.  They either didn't have very good imaginations, or there wasn't much else to paint during the middle ages.  I'm thinking a combination of both.  

That reminded me of an art history class I took in college.  So I was a history major with a minor in the humanities, so I wound up taking a lot of classes like art and music history.  So let me be clear to start with by saying that I'm not the most visually-stimulated person in the world.  Landscape photography touches me; capturing the magic of creation, nature, etc.  But paintings...not so much.

So the class was huge.  It was like Renaissance Art 101 and there were about 75 people in it.  I wound up in the back.  A non-visually-stimulated person in a huge class in the back row.  And it was only once a week for 3 hours, and because the professor taught like 4 of those classes, he was lazy and always let us out after the break; something I liked at the time, but now I can see that I would have gotten more out of it if I'd actually had three hours of teaching.  Because the professor had too many students, he made the tests all slide-identification.  One word answers with no essays, while I had always excelled at paper-writing and essay questions.  He also said that he would take the term paper out of the syllabus for our class because he didn't want to read 300 papers.  So the whole grade was dependent on those damn slides.  And I was in the back, and not visually stimulated.

I got a D, and a comment on my final exam that I wasn't an art person.

I decided right then and there that art wasn't my thing, and I wasn't into paintings and 'stuff like that'.

When I lived in London, I worked literally on the other side of Trafalgar Square from the National Gallery.  One of the greatest collections of art in the world, right at my doorstep, and it's free.  Took me almost a year to go there.  I'd go to lunchtime evensong services at St Martin's in the Field, but I'd never get over to the gallery.  Too many tourists, and I wasn't into art, I'd say.

So then I started The Artist's Way and needed to go on an artist date.  I figured that it would be a good thing to visit the National Gallery and check out the Leonardo Da Vinci sketches they have (I'm a big Da Vinci fan, just because he was so awesome).  I can't even tell you how blown away I was.  When you're standing up close and personal to a painting, and you can see the brush strokes, and you can see how they made the colors, and how they did the shadows - it was nothing short of mind-blowing.  I was in awe.  My new favorite thing became going to the National Gallery once a week and picking a random painting, and just studying it, learning it, and getting to know it really well.

Well I can't even tell you how pissed off I was for that douchbag professor who was too lazy to read term papers or do his job, and thus led me to think that I wasn't an art person.  I forget his name now and I'm not going to bother looking it up because he's not worth it, but he was so wrong.  At the time I still remembered his name, and I would buy postcards in the gallery gift shop sometimes and write messages to him telling him that he was too quick to judge people, and he should do the job that student tuition paid him to do.  And I would tell him that he was wrong about me, and that almost cost me the joy of art, but I would forgive him if he didn't do it to any other students.  I don't know whether he ever received these, and I don't really care.  It made me feel better to send them.

The point is, I am too an art person, I'm just not into slide identification, and anyone who thinks that's what makes you an art person is just a slide person and doesn't have an ounce of art in their soul.  

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