Frustrating New Art Class

After enrolling in two different sculpture classes and having both cancelled on me, I enrolled in the only art class left offered by the City of Ottawa-Drawing.

The class is on Monday nights and I was so excited! I couldn’t wait to start sketching naked people and fruit. But the class was nowhere near to what I expected. It was a million degrees in there, the windows wouldn’t open and the approach that the instructor took did not make sense to me at all! He asked us to draw an easel, which I did, but when he came around to me, he said: “You’re not supposed to draw an easel. You’re supposed to draw shapes and negative space”

Um, o.k. Then he walked around the room, picked up somebody’s drawing and said ” Now, THIS is interesting!”

The person drew a bunch of skewed triangles and squares.

Over the next two hours, he said stuff like this to me : “Forget proportion and proper distance” and “You live 100 years after Picasso. You’re free!”

“Free”, meaning to make crazy shapes and not do what I really want to do, which is realism and eventually realism mixed with fantasy.

Feeling frustrated, I tried to follow along and draw the friggin’ shapes, but it still wasn’t good enough. “Don’t close the shapes, he would chastise, “move onto some other object”

Feeling mischievious, I started to draw some bored guy in the class and he tsk tsk’d “No!”

Some middle aged woman also decided to join in and literally got right in my face and said:

“Think of the Italian sculptors!”

You mean like Michelangelo? Because he spent years studying the human form. As the teacher continued to lecture me, she also decided to pick at me, which was very annoying and gave me the urge to stab her with my pencil and ask the instructor: “So is THIS art? I call it ‘ Annoying Suck-up makes “interesting” shapes with her blood on the floor”” LOL

Anyways, after putting me on the spot and asking me what I thought of everyone’s drawings, I replied that they reminded me of spearheads, city plans or childrens blocks, he said not to associate them with anything “outside” the class.  He asked to see examples of my work so I showed him some earlier sketches and he said “Good, good. But these are scientific, not artistic.”

Yeah, I think they are artistic, since I created them using my own perspective and experiences and took the time to study each subject. I didn’t just draw a crooked triangle and say: “Done! That’ll be a million dollars please!”  LOL

Now, in all seriousness,  I respect abstract/cubist art, but it is not for me. (Or at least some of it isn’t for me) I didn’t get the ‘Voice of Fire’ when I saw it at the National Gallery, not do I feel any type of connection to art of a similar nature.

If other people want to make art this way, fine, but art ultimately is up to the individual. Everyone draws/paints/sculpts how they feel most comfortable. The role of the instructor is to strengthen that voice, not try to weaken it by having them imitate an art style that is not their own.

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29 thoughts on “Frustrating New Art Class

  1. XUP

    I think I’d leave that class if I were you. It sounds very depressing. I strongly believe that every artist – whether it’s visual art or music or literary art or dance or whatever – has to learn and perfect the fundamentals first. So before you can go off in a jazz riff on the piano, you have to do a million scales and learn Fur Elise. Before you write free form poetry, you have to know grammar and have to be able to write a good paragraph and a business letter and a poem with form and structure. And you have to understand poetic form and structure, analogy, metaphor, etc. And before you go off slapping a bunch of crap together and calling it art, you should be skilled at drawing the human form and being able to interpret the world in a realistic form and being able to understand those art forms. Then if you want you can build on that and create something abstract. I find it very annoying when someone who can’t draw a face any better than I can tries to sell me a board full of buttons and wire that he calls art. Because, by jove, it shows even in the abstract art if you are actually an artist or a hack. Sorry for the long rant.

  2. Fame Throwa

    Ugh!!!!! What a horrible experience!

    I’ve taken 2 art classes in the past 10 years. The first was the city Drawing course, and it was the total opposite to what you went through.

    The instructor was BRILLIANT. She broke down drawing like a science and taught us how to capture what we saw with exact realism. That was what I wanted out of the course, so some free thinkers maybe were disappointed.

    The second course I ever took was a water colour painting course at a summer program at an art college. The instructor basically wanted us to reproduce his (very dull, very unoriginal) landscape paintings but offered no instructions on how to do so, just chastising when ours didn’t look like his. Such a waste!

    It’s too bad that we can’t try 1 class or meet the instructor before signing up for an art class. I suppose next time you could try getting in touch with the instructor before signing up, citing that you have some questions.

    As for this situation you’re in, I’m not sure what to say. Sounds like your time might be better spent elsewhere. Try to get your money back; there might be a period in which you can do that.

  3. Pauline Post author

    Roger’s Place-LOL. Y’know I hope one day I can teach my own art class and I think I will call it just that: “Naked People and Fruit”
    XUP-Exactly! So why was everyone in the class looking at me like I took crazy pills when I tried to say just that!
    Fame throwa-Where did you take the first art class? Could you email me the name of the instructor? (if you remember)

  4. Lynn

    I’m so sorry to hear that the class was such a disappointment. The instructor seems surprisingly close minded for an artist — although I’m sure he has a lesson plan in mind, he must realize that artists come in all forms and may wish to explore different things! I’d understand if you didn’t go back but it surely would be interesting to see if he intends to follow the same tack the whole course length.

    As for the buttinsky — OH MAN, I hate that. BUTT OUT, BUTTINSKY.

  5. alison

    That sounds awful! I’d be demanding my money back. XUP had it exactly right. Thanks for dropping by my blog.

  6. Kate

    That instructor sounds terrible — terrible in a way that I would consider mentioning to the school. And this class is also something that’s supposed to be fun and inspiring for you. Is there any way you can leave and get your money back if this kind of behavior continues?

  7. writerdood

    Draw a square and spray it with silly string. Then stick a Zagnut bar in the middle. He’ll probably love it. Tell him, when the Zagnut bar is removed, it will represent negative space, and then pull it off and eat it.

  8. VioletSky

    What a useless class. Though with my skills, I’d probably do very well in it. But I’d be very unhappy. Art is a science.
    I love architectural drawings. I also love the look of Arabic script. Both to me are perfect drawn art.

  9. Pauline Post author

    Lynn-It was ironic how closed minded he was considering that he kept reminding me of how ‘free’ I was to create. Weird.
    LOL@Buttinsky. She was a real numbnut!
    Alison-Unfortunately I signed up late so I don’t think I’ll be getting a refund. *sighs*
    I’ll be back to visit your blog again soon!:)
    Kate-He was offering classes through a recreation complex, not a school, but I don’t think complaining would amount to much. I’m not confident that I would get my money back since I signed up late for this class.
    Writerdood-LOL. He would probably say something ridiculous like: “Wow, such vision! You are a genius!”
    Violetsky-I agree and think that all art is beautiful, as long as its made with sincerity and passion.:)

  10. coffeewithjulie

    What a downer — you pay good money and spend good time and energy towards a class and the teacher isn’t even worthy of it! Don’t give up … you’ll find an awsome and inspiring teacher (after you get your money back from that one!)

  11. Pauline Post author

    Coffeewithjulie-I hope I can find a great teacher, it seems Ottawa is lacking in good artistic mentors.

  12. Pauline Post author

    Kilax-No, I don’t think I’ll be going back. (I would like to argue more with the instructor, but I doubt it would accomplish much)

  13. kirby

    No, go back for at least one more class. Wear a black unitard covered with multi-colored shapes cut out of construction paper. During class, do an interpretive dance to negative space, THEN stab the instructor in the head with a pencil. They’ll probably end up hiring you to teach a class in performance art.

  14. andhari

    That guy is so awful! Every artist has its own unique perspective they put into their drawings. He of all people should understand that.

  15. Counter Culture Clown

    I made a sculpture once. Out of mud. It was a mud monster.

    Ok, it was a pile of mud with two sticks in it, but screw you I was a little kid!

    …alright that was just last week.

  16. Pauline Post author

    Counter Culture Clown-My (now former) art instructor was going to teach a sculpture class but it was cancelled. He probably would have had us making the same kind of monsters! 😉

  17. Robin

    I find these kind of classes confusing, I don’t really understand how one teaches art. It’s abstract, we all see it differently.

  18. Pauline Post author

    Robin-Teaching art should be about teaching value, perspective, proportion, etc. But abstract art? Yeah, I also have no idea. I didn’t think you could do it “wrong”, but apparently you can.

  19. Pauline Post author

    MD Jackson-Bad teachers are everywhere apparently. Have you taken a lot of art classes? Or did you give up after a few and just teach yourself?

  20. Pearl

    Yeah, that’d be frustrating. I’ve been in writing classes like that. I can be “free” in my own time without paying for the privilege. love how you spun it funny.

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  23. neeroc

    ‘ Annoying Suck-up makes “interesting” shapes with her blood on the floor’ Best name for an art piece ever.

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