Tuesday, May 11, 2010
Painting is Better Than Math
When I was in high school I was all about art. What a great time it was! No responsibilities to anything but my school work and my art. Painting was it for me. I was horrible at math, loved English, history and French. Definitely hated gym class. Bleh!
One painting class was right before geometry and I had to bring my wet paintings with me. Of course, the math teacher was not impressed. She wanted me to be good at math which I just was never going to be, sorry. This teacher complained to my parents at conferences that if I could spend more time studying math instead of painting pictures I'd be good at it. The truth was, and is, that my brain is not wired for math. Ok now we use calculators, but I still don't know what answer I'm supposed to come up with, no matter how hard I try. I would go for extra help after school to try to get math to work for me. The teacher was so helpful and I'd seem to get it, but when class time came-whoosh!-right out of my head. What else could I do? I felt sorry for the teacher, she just didn't understand why she couldn't get it in my brain.
In art class I was a star! Yup! Our school won awards because of my work. The year I was editor of the art/literary magazine it won awards and I designed the yearbook cover for my senior year. No, I was not popular, except if someone said Art, then yeah, they knew who I was. One time I was up to my elbows in silkscreen ink and was going to miss the next class. I ran there, my arms all purple, and told the teacher I needed to skip her class. She didn't mind, she knew me well. But once I didn't run there to say I was full of paint and she put me down as cutting out. What? Me? Cutting class to me was when kids hid behind the school building to smoke, or whatever. I was painting!
Stuck for motivation, I needed an idea for my next project. I was complaining to my mom what to paint, what to paint? She was reading a Women's Day magazine and suddenly ripped out a page, threw it at me and said "Here. Go paint this!" It was winter and the ad she tossed at me was an actor dressed like Scrooge. Well, ok, I might as well try that.
At school we were using gessoed masonite-cheap school! So I sketched the portrait on it, nice and big, and went at it with oil paints. My only hang up was the cotton candy-like eyebrows. I just couldn't figure out what to do, but my father made a suggestion to use a big brush and blot on the paint in the shadows then detail the highlights. And voila! His idea clicked in my head and that's all I needed to finish the work and it came out great. My whole school knew Scrooge. I used it for my college audition and the professors liked it too.
When my kids were little they were afraid of it because they said the eyes were following them around. My friends ask me if I still have Scrooge. Well yeah, my mom has it hanging in her dining room!