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Re: open house


Date: Sun Sep 26 2004 - 19:46:30 PDT

The reason I am an art teacher is complete fate in action. I had no
artistic background. As a child I did paint by numbers that my parents
bought me, and I colored in coloring books. My mom did not save
anything from school because there was nothing to save. The only art I
remember was in 5th grade, and the reason I remember it was because I
got in trouble for eating the cherry sours off of the construction paper
cherry trees that we made for Washington's Birthday before I took it
home to show my mom how cute it was. Really. In Kindergarten I was
awestruck by a girl named Lucy who could make little clay people with
braids and collars and buttons and legs and arms and stuff. In junior
high art class I sat in the back of the room because I was shy about my
art. The teacher rarely made it back there and taught from a desk. I
remember making a clay figure of a girl reclining on one hip, her legs
outstretched and her arms straight down in front of her. I tried so
hard to make her look seductive. Ha. When I got her back from the kiln
it looked like an alien with two right hips. I painted the entire
figure fire engine red. I never any real training. In high school I
sat at the back of the room in my ONE art class. Stephanie Osborne sat
next to me. I wish I knew where she was. Is she by chance a lurker???
Hope so. ANyway, Stephanie could draw the most amazing figures. She
sat in the back so that she could be left alone to draw her gorgeous
figure drawings of girls flying in billowing dresses with hair wafting
in the breeze, in the clouds. SO beautiful. One day she gave me a
drawing. I put it in my backpack and took it home. My mom found it and
askedme if I had done it. I wanted to be an artistic person so badly
that I lied and said yes just to see what it would feel like. Felt
pretty good. In college I kept changing majors. I liked school, but I
just couldn't decide what I wanted to do for the next 40 years. One day
I was at a friend's house who was majoring in Interior Design. She
taught me to draft in an afternoon. I was SO psyched!!! I could
DRAW!!! I knew immediately that I was going to change my major again to
Design, which I did. I was terrified. My parents thought I was nuts.
But my husband, a writer, encouraged me. See, I was jealous of his
typewriter in our early marriage. How could anyone feel SO passionately
about a typewriter??? I saw the design thing as a creative outlet for
me that might match his at first. I wanted so much to find a passion,
something that I could get lost in. Well, I was terrified when I started
art school. I just knew that everyone there would laugh at me and I
really wondered what in the world I was doing there on the first day.
But by the end of the first day, the doors and windows of creativity
were flinging open for me. I had teachers who TAUGHT art! How novel!
I had creative people all around me to emulate and watch to see how they
clicked. I was inspired. I came alive. Now, the most hilarious thing
is how I found out in the first semester that I would not be able to
become an interior designer. I would love to sit and draft for
hours...making little villages with cafes and awnings, antique cars,
gaslights, little people and animals, etc. BUT after 3 hours (on the
dot) I would have a wave of nausea wash over me that felt just like
being carsick. I had no idea why but it kept happening. I just found
out this year what caused it...fixed focal length while working so
intently on those renderings. All of the plot pointing and so on, I
became so immersed and in the zone that I wouldn't even look up for 3
hours. That can cause you to feel nauseated. Just think...had I taken
breaks I might be a designer now! Well, I switched my major to ceramics
when I finally learned to center half way through the semester. I LOVED
clay when I could finally do it. Almost quit that before I did. Well,
all was wonderful for me all the way through art school. I truly
blossomed and found my calling and what made me happy. Two weeks before
graudation with a degree in ceramics I started to panic...what on earth
was i going to DO???
Now here's the weirdest fate part of the story. I had put off my first
semester of art history until my graduating semester of my senior year.
The teacher and I had become close friends through the course. She came
to my opening for my senior show. She taught part time at U of H and
part time at my current school. She told me of an opening at SJS. SJS
was two blocks from my house. I knew instantly that this was my ticket.
SJS is a great school and I thought teaching art sounded like the most
fun! Only one problem...I had not gone the art ed route. I went to the
bookstore and asked where the art ed section was in the stacks. The
first book I touched was Frank Wachowiak's "Emphasis Art". I went home
and read it over the weekend and wrote a resume. It had everything I
needed to walk the walk and talk the talk!!!! (Is this an endorsement
for this book or what???)
I went to my interview nervous as heck, but really pumped. I REALLY
wanted this job, especially after reading Emphasis Art. I clicked
instantly with the other art teacher at the time. I still don't know
wht I said or did that led them to hire me without experience. I am the
kind of art teacher that we all say not to hire because I had no
experience, no art ed background. Prior to this interview, my
experience with kids was working with Autistic children for a year as a
volunteer, and working in a children's home as a relief house parent on
weekends. I had never managed a classroom and never student taught.
It's a miracle and truly fate that I landed my job. 25 years later, I
can honestly say that I was born to do this. Every day when I walk into
my classroom I carry my own pathetic school art background on my back
like a turtle shell. I tell my kids every day that anybody who really
wants to make art can LEARN to make art. We are not all born gifted.
Most of us LEARN art. Thank God for my neighbor who taught me to draft
on that fall afternoon. It's all such fate in my case. Oh, and what is
REALLY high school art teacher had a child in my class!!!!
She subbed for me!!!!
She was a great sub. Who knows what was wrong when she only sat at a
desk and had us do still lifes of wine bottles and apples with no
instruction. Perhaps she was going through a horrible time in her life.
Perhaps she was burned out. She really is a creative person herself.
What a weird world. Oh, and one more husband's first fiance
(he never married her) had children in my class!!!!

Linda Woods

Visit our student's web art gallery at St.John's School
 click on "Stories of SJS," click on "Arts Stories," click on Linda
Woods' name. View artwork by Lower, and Middle School students as well
as our art archives.