Dedication: Every artist that has lost their passion because of their critics. I also want to dedicate this to those who have been bullied and peer pressured as well.
Art is supposed to represent what the first amendment stands for. That is what I was taught to believe years ago. Apparently, times continue to change for worse instead of better. Today, I would just like to take this time to share my experience with you all about art and why I feel so indifferent about it now. Before you start reading, I am not asking for any sympathy points. I am a man who has been told worse and continues to be critiqued for a very long time. To some people, they would quit and move on. But for me, it just drives me and makes this man hungry for more knowledge/understanding. Thank you for your time from your busy schedule and with all that is going on with COVID-19/many unfortunate events that happened in 2020, I hope you all have learned something from my story today. This following story has been
built up since I was first introduced the word “Art.”
Due to the complexity of emotions that I am feeling right now, I wish to remain anonymous. All my life, I have been searching for answers as to why art really is. Is it a shape, form, light, figure, line, an equation and or an emotion? What could it possibly be? I draw, draw and draw so many numerous times throughout my life, learn all the art styles and attempt to mimic what I see in front of me while giving credit, but yet I still feel empty. Part of me is just not content with this particular subject matter that everyone is inspired by. What happened to that fire that was once in me when it comes to exploring and drawing art? Why did I stop caring/started to pay other artists to help me with my visual designs? The answer is quite simple to some but complex to others. Please understand that this is very painful/distressing for me to even bring up at this time where death can come at any moment to anybody.
When I first drew a bunch of scribbles and lines as a kid along with a wide array of shapes, measuring each arm/leg that I drew and constantly learning about new art styles to perfect my own, I was made fun of a lot. Some had to examine my art like it was some sort of abomination that was just created while others, just told me it was “good” and walked away. Due to my busy schedule at the time with school and etc., I didn’t really have enough time to practice different types of art. I remember having nightmares/dreams of how people would just point/laugh at my efforts at trying to draw, trace and learn about art. The tears I shed on the inside and the struggle of rage that I had to contain each time it happened. The ironic part is, I have met many people who never believed me, when I told them that I loved their art style. Most of them would just give me a look of disgust and almost yell at me for daring to like their art. It was very discouraging. And yes, even though my family/teachers loved my art, I didn’t because the damage was already done.
In my teen years, my art started to get a little better. People were starting to notice the dimensions, edges and perspective of where I was coming from. My favorite thing to draw was pretty much anything. But I wanted to draw it in my own style. I will never forget all the B’s and C’s I received in my art class for daring to be different/unique. The same thing happened to me in elementary school. I remember actually following all the directions of the art assignment and receiving an A. Guess what I did with it? I threw it away or gave it to somebody else. Why? Because, that art did not represent who I was. To me, It was just another assignment with extra research that needed to be completed. Nothing else and nothing more.
In the present day, I continue to inspire many kids, teens and even adults, to never give up on learning about art and try new styles. The amount of sass and disrespect that I would get is just irritating. I would provide them with books, tutorials and even give them the many tips that I learned in Digital Arts and Design for free. All that I was met with is judgment of missing details in my art, misconceptions on the comments that I made on many art sites and losing relationships because of my open minded thoughts and perceptions. I will never forget when I fell in love with a woman and I wanted to make a professional looking picture for her. Guess what? She took it the wrong way and never spoke to me again.
In the mist of being rejected, overly critiqued by all age groups, turned down, receiving a grade below an A on each art assignment and having my self-esteem about my art being torn down by many people of higher education levels, part of me just grew more hungry and thirsty by the minute. The days I prayed and the amount of people I had to forgive. The persistence of encouraging many artists like me, who almost gave up to keep drawing and practicing. All this did was encourage me to be bigger, stronger, faster and more educated in all forms of life. (Including Art)
There are four anonymous teachers that I would like to thank for
increasing/decreasing my interest in art throughout the years. Thanks to them, I have decided to pursue a medical career instead. It really didn’t matter how much they apologized, the internal damage was vital. It is a wound that can’t be healed or sealed. Going into too much detail, will just leave me in a puddle of my own internal/external tears. The thoughts of myself thinking that, “It’s my fault and I should have known to draw/made my art this way” will start flowing through my head again. The many thoughts of, “When I analyzed this art piece, how could I have forgotten to talk about this?”
Teacher 1 from elementary school was very nice/sweet. She loved all sorts of art styles and encouraged us to learn more. I remember when she let me take home an art book that consisted of many art styles with me to study. So what did she do incorrectly? Not talking to me about why I got a B or C on art pieces that I worked hard on instead of an A. I used to have thoughts of “Art just isn’t for me” and “Maybe I am not meant to be an artist after all.” While my Mother still has the art pieces and hangs them up on the wall, part of me still wonders why I didn’t earn that A/why it was so difficult for me to comprehend certain instructions given to me in art assignments.
Teacher 2 from middle school was extremely professional/open minded. There was this one assignment that I worked on. I believe it was traditional art? I got an A on it. I was so happy. But when I shared it with my friends/acquaintances, they immediately started to critique and tear down my art. Some even laughed at it and shoved their master pieces in my face. I was happy for them, but I did not appreciate how they just shut down my own creative vision like that. The many conversations with people online, family members and even other artists, has really helped me during those trying times. I was mostly told to just “pursue a higher career” and to not worry about what they say.
Teacher 3 was a mixed bag of fruit and vegetables combined in a bowl. On the days that she was happy, she helped out everyone and explained certain topics more than once until we understood it. But on other days, we were all given the stink eye and had to re-do art over and over and over and over and over again. I have lost track of how many extra hours of studying, research, youtube tutorials, looking up different art styles and balancing out watching Adobe Photoshop and etc. advanced, beginner and intermediate tutorials, that I had to endure/gather. My Mother/Father/family members became concerned for my mental health/physical health because, I wasn’t myself with the daycare kids, my mood swings were somewhat extreme, I would starve myself by skipping meals, I ended up becoming my worst enemy and my passion for art/digital art was slowly fading away. There were these two assignments in the traditional art sense that I had to do over many times. On top of my already busy schedule with work/other classes, I was beyond stressed to the point where, I had to see an eye doctor to fix my lazy eye/seek mental therapy ASAP! The story ends with me graduating as one of her top students, but the mental anguish and pain, was enough for me to just pack up my art and to never look at it again.
Teacher 4 goes by the acronym of MJA. He is a college professor/doctor who has a masters in art or what not. This man loves to shove his intelligence in his student’s faces. But he does it in a way where he is humble towards many famous artists and looks at the rest of us like we are uneducated swine or lazy people just looking for an easier way out. He mentally tortured me with his assignments. Art analyzation is supposed to be a thing of beauty and grace. I may be alone in this, but he has put the final nail in the coffin when it comes to anything pertaining to art. This professor/doctor took all the fun out of it with his long/drawn out lectures, that did not help me in the slightest. His way of teaching was so off-putting/unhelpful that I had to do my own formal research, (in an introductory class) look up tips on how to analyze art, watch 3-4 tutorial videos on what to look for when analyzing art, skim/read through a fundamentals art book on analyzation and spend 30+ hours trying to complete all of his assignments in 3 days. Why 3 days you ask? Because I was a full time student and I just did not have the time to balance out his “boring and uninspiring” assignments versus the other two history courses that I am taking.
Want to know what else happened between me and Teacher 4? It is quite disappointing to say the least. After going over his syllabus and introductory email/expectations for the class, I dare had the nerve to ask “in a professional matter” some questions about what I can and can’t do in the assignments. He responded back to me in such an arrogant way of stating, “I should know this already, it has been explained and the assignments are super easy.” Well guess what Teacher 4? The assignments were not easy. They were very stressful, caused me migraines, forced me to skip meals/ interrupt my exercise routine for a bit, do extra research/look for an optional college textbook, because you provided me with a textbook that did not fully help me at all with my assignments. Not to mention that your critiques on my assignments were just unnecessary/ nitpicky.
Teacher 4 caused me to seek extra mental therapy, caused me to relapse in hating my art again/my perceptions of it and to almost become extremely apathetic towards any critiques/tips that I receive about my art in general. He is a prime example of what an art teacher should not do. Even though Teacher 3 was a mixed bag/very professional during her lectures, at least she didn’t cause me to fully hate art in general. In his mind, the assignments are very trivial and can be done in no time. However, I was very shocked at how a professor who was so nice to me in the email/rooted for me to read ahead/learn more about art, is not being super critical of everything I and the students do. Despite all of that, I thank these teachers for encouraging/discouraging critiques in a verbal/non-verbal way throughout my life. (While one may argue that doing extra research is part of college, I want to remind you all that this is an introduction to art class, where we learn about the history of art and are expected to analyze art without even knowing how to professionally do such a thing. None of his lectures in the online course goes into detail about how to analyze art at all.)
So with all that being said, some of you may think that I am overthinking this and that I shouldn’t believe the words that were spoken to me. But what you all fail to understand, is that the purpose of me sharing my experience, is to encourage you all to learn how to properly analyze art and to attempt a new art style every week or month now! Don’t wait! Yes I have been wrongfully treated in my art classes, but it just caused me to become more hungry/thirsty for knowledge. The more critiques I received, the more I wanted so I can do better in life. That is just how I operate as a human being. So what did I learn from all of this?
Practice every day in whatever you want to do. People of higher levels will sometimes refuse to help you, because they are either jealous of you, burnt out or just lost that passion/fire that drives them every single day. Do not be afraid (artists of old and new) to try/learn new art styles. Art shouldn’t be perfect and it should represent you. Yes, you should practice until you get it right when it comes to analyzing art and drawing, sewing and etc., but at the end of the day, people are going to be invested in “your” art style and “your” open mindlessness of how you see art/many subjects of life. We don’t want regurgitated knowledge. We need want knowledge that is combined with everything that you have acquired through your pain, struggle/endurance.
My drive for art may have been burnt out after 21 years, but let yours be an endless light that will never stop emitting radiance. Eventhough I am seeking therapy about this to combat my inner demons/past mistakes that haunt me, I promise to continue to encourage others to pursue art and learn how to analyze in a professional way for fun. These art teachers have taught me what to do and not to do when you are in a position of a leader in a classroom. My hunger/thirst for knowledge in all aspects of life continue to grow regardless of my pain, struggle and the mental illness of an SPCD/GAD that I have to fight every single day. So the next time an art teacher/professor wants to strut their stuff about their knowledge/understanding of art and art history, squeeze every bit of information out of them and do extra research like I did. For some of you, this a career that you want to pursue further. As for me, I am ready to put my art tools away for a bit and go towards another field.
Art is supposed to be fun and represent the first amendment. We are all guilty of overly critiquing somebodies art of many age groups, to the point where we inadvertently destroyed/crushed their dreams/drive to do better in that field. Take a look around, use the resources that are there, thank your critics and push/press towards the mark of success. Your art style is beautiful, unique and we need more and more different art styles from every single person around the world. Learn the anatomy of a human body, watch the “how to” videos for fun, read a chapter of an art analyzation book a day and remember to let your dreams be reality regardless of what happened. People will take you down and love to see you fail. Your job every day is to disappoint them and to shut your negative thoughts up.
Kill the negativity with silent success. Never let them know your secrets of how you made it. You are a warrior, a victor and there is no way in hell that you can easily be defeated! Keep fighting, learning, pressing and encouraging others/yourself. Leave your mark and make a legacy for yourself through your own “open minded” analyaztions and new styles of art/dance. Life changes just like art. But it needs to change for the betterment and not the worse for each generation. Art teachers/professors need to be more open minded and stop being stuck in the mind of a “pompous aristocrat.”
Thank you for reading/skimming through my story and I hope I opened your eyes a little bit.
“Reinvent until you bleed.”-Victor, 2015