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Re: Re: Crazy Kids...funky doo's, and the need for a "Voice!"


From: Larry Seiler (lseiler_at_TeacherArtExchange)
Date: Sun Nov 05 2000 - 04:16:20 PST

> But are some kids afraid to create? They'll
> engage in all sorts of avoidance tactics.

Yes, Dennis, creativity is "risk" taking. I see this among artists all the
time. A definition of professional artists it would appear are those that
have put all this fear of risk behind them, but not necessarily so. Some
have reputation to maintain, and part of them wants to go new directions.
They've worked so hard to present evidence of their talent onto others, and
keep their experimentations quite secret.

On ...I have fun with this. As an artist...I wish to show
what I'm capable of, to express myself. Of course not to express
mistakes...! As an art instructor, I'm obligated to transparency for the
purpose of encouraging and teaching others, so the mistakes I would hide as
an artist are part of the complete package as an instructor!

I just submitted a conte self-portrait lesson on's "how-to"
Artschool...which should be up in a few days. My juniors and seniors have
been working with mirrors and portraiture. I walked them thru steps of
breaking down the face; had them try their hand at pictures of models from
magazines, and now working on themselves.

Its a scary venture. draw from a live model. Two, to be honest at
their age, when appearance and finding acceptance is
discover and not cover their imperfections. Three...the contemplative
prospective of peering into their own soul thru the window of their eyes.

I realized after a couple days...I was going to have to demonstrate the
"risk"....and broke out a mirror, grabbed a set of conte crayons, and sat
amongst them. A couple things happen. One, their confidence that it CAN be
done is assured, or at least..."someone" can do it. Two, confidence in
their instructor so that his/her assurances can be taken with a faith based
on more trust. Third, they see how the instructor/artist handles mistakes.

My work progressed quickly, and rather well. the process of
getting up every five minutes to help others, it was a struggle remembering
to set my face in the same pose looking back in the mirror! After about 45
minutes of work...I had set my eyes too far apart and not extended my hair
high myself that Cromagnon look!

It was important not to protect my ego and dispense with that notion that my
talent prevents me from making failures. Instead...I allowed myself to be
exampled, and that the notion that success is built upon many failures to be
seen and demonstrated. I decided my kids weren't the only one that needed
to see that transparency, and THAT's when I decided my demo needed to be put
up on where artists all over the world could see. So great is
this sense of risk taking...and fear to experiment at the risk of the ego
"slain"...that artists cower frequently., our dear children

I also demonstrated how to use a kneaded eraser and correct the mistake.
How NOT to panic, but over time learn how to recover.

> Perhaps the other kids have laughed at their attempts to draw
> or paint and they've decided to avoid any subjection to ridicule. are so very cruel. I warn my students however...that I am quite
capable with the using of words and critique, of thoroughly destroying and
demeaning ANYONE's work in front of the whole class if necessary....such to
be demonstrated if I hear ANYBODY slam another person's work!! Sounds cruel
on my part...but, by proclaiming such early on in the new quarter or
term...I've not had to make any such examples!

We really are sideline coaches, sending them in with plays and confidence,
but we are also the cheerleaders- encouraging them on to victory. We have a
great calling. If we can take the world's messes. If we can take those
kids whose lives are in such turmoil, who do not know the love and care of
parents that are there for them, and by our enthusiasm and personal
attention get them just to "find a little evidence" that they can accomplish
beyond what they thought possible.....we are on a path of healing and
change. We have successfully thrown a safety life ring.

> Their self-esteem wasn't high to begin with. How do
> you get these kids to at least try? Encouraging them, cajoling them,
> challenging them...sometimes just letting them be.
> Dennis in CA

Yes...all these things. I think it also requires the art teacher to realize
he/she is not JUST a teacher teaching a nonacademic class that doesn't
count. This is difficult since so many of us are not taken seriously on
staff. We are social engineering. We are like it or not, in a position to bring hope to the hopeless. We have a mission, and we need to
remain clear on this. Our victories may never be accounted to us here. For
me...I have Another whom is aware of such, and such is enough to give me
encouragement to go on. For others whom find such transcendency pathetic
and need to find something that will help you see the good
you are doing such that the patience to BE patient...the anticipation to
continue to anticipate break thrus succeeds thru trying times. It is
accumulative. Yet, is it not the best payment to have a student years later
come back to tell you how much your efforts meant to him/her and how it had
a force in affecting their lives? Good luck all....

Larry Seiler