Tuesday, November 14, 2006

for example

...This is a sample of what someone sent me after reading my art lesson yesterday:

This is one of my favorite things -- looking at what other people have drawn. There are some really interesting sections in this doodle. I especially like this part:

This could be a separate artwork in and of itself. It has a lot of energy and intensity.

I'd like to write more lesson plans that anyone would feel ready to tackle. It's funny to me what comments I've gotten already: "I think I could try that." Good -- that was my intention. I think a lot of people shut down to art and music early on when they imagine they haven't an aptitude for it.

I think everyone has a creative side. When people protest, "I can't draw a straight line," "I'm not creative at all," I always think of being in second grade when the main objective was to color inside the lines. That was paramount -- if you could direct the crayon within the thick black parameters, follow the rules, fill in the spaces properly, it implied a certain virtuousness. That you were obedient and dutiful and good.

And there has always been a part of me that has defiantly wanted to not be good. If good means: always following the rules. Rules to me were like concrete poured over a beautiful lawn of grass. We had a neighbor, growing up, who had a beautiful lawn in both texture and color. She had the lawn seeded specially to make it look that way. She told me it was called Kentucky Bluegrass. It was a pleasure to me just to walk barefoot over it. It felt like the most beautiful, velvety carpet under my feet.

To color in a picture perfectly, without a spill of errant color in any direction, would have been like putting in a basketball court over that lawn of Kentucky Bluegrass.

I bought a drawing book by Ed Emberley for my sons last week when they had the day off from school and it was rainy outside. My teenager hesitated: "Is this art?" I answered: Of course it is.

"But...isn't it sort of cheating to just make symbols for things? Isn't it kind of cartoony?"
"So what if it is?"
"Is that art?"
"Who decides what's art and what isn't?" I really wanted to know.

He thought about it.

"God, I guess."

I showed him the cave paintings, like the Lascaux in France. Is that art? Yes? So, then, isn't what you're doing here art? Where is the difference?

Why do we draw? Do we draw to make things real? Or to draw things that we've imagined? Both, isn't that so?

Now more than ever, in fact, could art be considered a valid means of expression. In this modern world of cyberspace and hyper-reality, where time and space take on an added dimension. You email me, I hit reply and send an answer back (in an ideal world, anyway): it's not on paper anywhere, it's just conceptual, paperless, an illusion. Yet still valid, and still real. Just like the creative impulse.

Draw what you want to. Make it real. The chapel ceilings have been painted; Michelangelo removed that burden. We can draw what we like; if you like it, it's good.

It's also art.