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[teacherartexchange] My art story or How I Became an Art Teacher

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From: Jean King (jdking_at_TeacherArtExchange)
Date: Sat Jul 09 2005 - 11:53:28 PDT


It seems to me that I have always loved art. The truth is I love the
process more than the product. I love to reach that creative space
where there is no time, no hunger, just the work.
 
As a child, I think I drove my parents mad with creating on anything in
sight. I remember getting in trouble for figuring out how well crayons
would draw on a really hot summer sidewalk. Wasting crayons, you know.
My father drew and had worked as a draftsman. My mother is one of those
people who think that it is important to stay clean and never break,
strip or otherwise "waste" your crayons. I think I made art just to
spite her.
 
As a child I dug clay from a local creek bed and made animals. They
were very impermanent, unfired and destroyed only to have their clay
recycled into the next clay creature.
 
There was no art teacher, art specialist, whatever it is you prefer to
call us, in my elementary school. The classroom teacher was it. I
loved to draw and paint, cut and paste, anything where I could create
without those boring old directions. I would draw illustrations for
other children and charge them a nickel. It was a great business.
 
The town we lived in had no museum. I didn't have a clue about serious
art except for the oil paintings that my grandmother had up in her
house. They were mainly still lifes, flowers, fruit, etc. There were
two paintings in particular that held my attention, two small portraits,
an old man and an old woman. I have no idea who painted them or where
they ended up, but I would stare at them for hours.
 
I saved my pennies and dimes so that I could buy a set of oil paints. I
didn't know anything about oil paints, nor did anyone I knew. Once I
had them I used them to paint on cardboard. I didn't have any
turpentine or canvas. The darned things never dried and they smeared
onto other things (sheets and bedspread) and my mother disposed of them,
paintings, brushes, paints and all.
 
When I was in fifth grade we moved to the big city. Still no art
teacher. I pitched a fit until my parents enrolled me in Art After
School. The instructor was wonderful. She showed us her work. I was
amazed. We did monoprints and painted. I was ecstatic! I was the
first there and the last to leave.
 
I took art through out junior high and high school. It was the most
joyous experience. I couldn't wait to be turned loose with the
materials. I don't remember being aware of what anyone else was doing.
Many of the projects that we did would cause extreme concern these days.
We used nitric acid to etch silver. We soldered using propane torches.
I don't remember any accidents, except for the great wax spill when we
were doing batik.
 
I did not go straight on to college. I took a round about trip, getting
married, having a daughter, getting divorced, and so on. I remarried
and my new mother-in-law, after seeing my work, recommended me to a
friend who ran an art program for the local museum. I was hired to
teach art for the same art after school program that I had attended in
fifth grade! My job title was visual artist/instructor. For many years
I taught, without benefit of degree or certification, for a variety of
local organizations. I went back to school for a semester, but dropped
out to become an artist's model. I learned a lot about painting and
drawing through observation and eavesdropping. I was accepted on the
states artist in education roster. I showed my work. And life went on.
 
Finally, in the late 80's I returned to school for real. I put my nose
to the grindstone and graduated with honors. It was actually a gift to
myself. I got to paint, draw, sculpt and get credit for it.
 
I took a job teaching in public education and have never looked back. I
love art. I hope that my love of art is contagious. It does seem to
be. My students come back and tell me so anyway. I have taught in
middle school and in elementary school. I have put together a ceramics
program. I continue to show my work and to teach outside of the public
school system.
 
Art rules!
 
Jean in Texas

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