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Re: thanks...student character


From: Larry Seiler (lseiler_at_TeacherArtExchange)
Date: Sat Dec 06 2003 - 05:27:15 PST

in reference to the WIP of students painting at

>As Usual, I love your demo's.----------even being retired I still look
> at them :-)

thanks jlb...appreciate hearing the link was followed up and found of
interest! I plan on using the link myself in the future to intro the
painting. To point out the high and low moments for students that leads
finally to a completed finished satisfying work.

Once in awhile, (speaking for myself I'm sure others relate) is a bit
frustrating to experience the reaction and witness the weak character of
students. Yesterday a senior girl was frustrated that her clay slab pieces
were too leatherhard to really work with, but she insisted on continuing to
score, slip and join pieces anyway. To the point of nearly swearing...she
let out her gutteral droans.

She found nearly every object possible to support the sides on all four
until they were self-supportive...yet, clear cracks were visible in the
corners joined.

I had told her at one point she was going to have to roll out some new slabs
and start over, but "no way, I'm not going to!" was her response.

As an artist...I find this interesting. We can discover principles of
nature in our working methods and cooperate...but rarely can we butt heads
with nature and win. I told her I did not invent clay...but only attempt to
work with it.

By class end...she began to realize the piece was not going to survive
drying. Then she expressed her frustration I let her work the entire period
on a piece that wasn't going to make it.

hahaha....I just smiled and walked away.

Our failures in attempts of course too are what artists experience in the
artistic life, so I am not losing sleep that students discover this. This
too is art appreciation in a form.

I think of those old college days where you'd ask the professor what he
thought of your clay piece, and out would come those cutting wires of
his...and with a quick motion sweep your piece would be halved.
"Hhhmmm..well, wall thicknesses are pretty consistent, no signs of air
bubbles. Yep...woulda been a good one! Make another." and then casually
walk away. hahahahah.....

Kids think their 15 minutes of invested time is like dealing with

Excellence is a task master. Demands so much more of us...and if we can
survive their sharp tongue and ill manners, good for students to come face
to face with its requirements and challenges. Here is where we endure for
that which is good for the student ultimately.

A girl made a spongebob planter of clay, and was quite charming...but, its
bottom did not survive. Piecing it became obvious she rushed
putting corners of slabs together with some shoddy sloppy attention to the
matter. The outside looked good, but hid the truth of the internal
condition. I know this girl's attitude, and she is going to go ballistic.
As an artist myself professionally...having as much as 200-300 hours in a
single painting doing whatever was necessary to pull the work off
successfully, I'm not inclined to respond to her rant empathetically.
She'll be mad initially...but by the time I'm done saying what I have to
say...the room thereafer going strangely silent and feeling as though the
air could be cut with a knife, she will grow and this will be a point of
reference. If the worse thing that happens in her life is a pot that didn't
come out...well, she can consider herself pretty lucky!

Meanwhile....the artist though frustrated, and perhaps after kicking a few
stones out in the road or nearby field, goes about getting back to his/her
work. You never fail until you quit trying.


Larry Seiler
My websites-

Member of NAPPAP- "National Academy of Professional Plein Air Painters"

"Painting is easy when you don't know how, but very difficult when you do!"
Edgar Degas