Friday, July 1, 2011

Fear And Loathing In Art Class

This may come as a surprise considering what I am doing with my life these days but I hated art class at school. So much so that at age 14, when you get to choose your subjects, art was immediately crossed off the list. I spent my time doing woodwork, metalwork, mechanical workshops and various other classes instead.

Art at school, for me, completely missed the point. It should be about creativity, exploration and self expression. Instead it was do this and do it this way, exactly the same as everyone else is doing it. Days of boring history lectures about the lives of dead artists. Craft projects I had no interest in whatsoever. I just wanted to draw what I wanted to draw. Not carve a given pattern into a piece of lino or make a pot out of clay. The end result was a loathing for art teachers.

I bring this up because of a recent incident. My 12 year old nephew was talking about art at school the other day. They had been learning about Van Gogh. (Yep I remember nearly falling asleep during that) Nephew wasn’t too interested in him either. However the teacher had asked the students if there was an artist that they would like to talk about, so he came to me. After some discussion and looking at pictures online, Salvidor Dali’s surreal artworks got the nod.

In my mind this was a good choice. At worst the kids would have some thought provoking images to look at. Yet it should be so much more than that. There is so many things a teacher could do with that material, from discussions of meaning, creative writing, what do you find surreal, paint a surreal picture - the list goes on.

I was not expecting what actually happened though. When nephew brought up Dali, the art teacher had never heard of him. This is a person that went through 12 years of school, then another 4 of university, specialising in art. I was flabbergasted. In fact it was such a surreal experience that I thought it was a joke at first. Sadly it wasn't.

My loathing of art teachers has hit an all time high.


  1. Wow. Your opinion of art classes is exactly the same as mine. Ive failed every art class ive taken. Art comes from within and how cam they call themselves a art teacher amd never heard of Dali? My 6yr old son knows of Dali..

  2. That's pretty ridiculous not to be familiar with Dali! And how could Van Gogh be boring? Oh, yeah, the teacher.
    I didn't take art class in high school, but I would have liked any op to have gotten my hands on free art supplies and time and place to work. Not deadlines, maybe, and I was pretty busy roaming the halls.
    I had a Renaissance art history class at a community art center. It was fabulous - part history (teacher did art restorations) and part application. We had slide shows and visited a good museum. We cracked eggs to make our own egg tempura paintings; we painted frescoes onto wet plaster and got to work with gold leaf. The ones who could afford it topped off the class with a trip to Italy with behind-the-scenes museum visits.
    It's all in the teacher and how they handle things. Well, money and time for a trip to Italy would have been handy, too.

  3. Although I loved to draw when I was a kid I hated art class. As far as I remember we hardly did any drawing at all. It was always a theme forced on me, and having to be done in a certainw way, just like you described it in your blog post. It is kind of funny that this seems to be the case in so many countries. In addition to that the encouragement I got was near to nil; my parents and relations said that I was good at drawing, and school said I was bad at art. Horrible experience!

  4. Nice post! We, here, in india didnt have art as a subject at schools(I think it is still not there), so not fortunate enough to sleep as well as you. But definitely hated history most reading and memorising the dates of god-knows-who kings and their keeps.. :) Nice images in ur zazzle gallery!


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...