Walking into my 12th grade art class was like entering another world. In retrospect the class was a structured more like a college level class, and I was to be treated as an adult. Responsible for my own motivation and ability to learn. The teacher, Mr. Edwin Nagel, had much to impart, techniques, media instruction, critiques- but only if we had the interest to seek it and to pursue it. I was enchanted.
This is what he wrote in my yearbook at the end of the school year- The first 500 are the hardest.
At the time the words had small meaning to me. What the heck? Five hundred artworks were nothing. I would quickly reach that number, then what? They would suddenly be easy to do?
Off I went to college to pursue a degree in art education. And I worked very hard to excel in school. The only artwork I did for myself was major doodling. The assigned art was designed to teach concepts, and was often meaningless to me.
Marriage and full time jobs came next. Working to support ourselves, along with rent, food, and cars left little time or energy for artwork. I once traded a painting for part of the rent money- but that was during a rare time I had the energy to paint at all.
Along came my children. A great joy to me, but certainly a great time eater. As a mother I turned most all of my creative energies to being the very best mother I possibly could. It mattered totally.
I began to paint again when my oldest child was 3 or 4 years old. She would sit and work on her own art with me while the baby was sleeping. It was a peaceful time, and the muse would visit; then the baby would wake, the laundry need doing and the family become hungry for dinner.
500 hundred paintings indeed!
Over the years my art time was slowly returned to me. The more I explored it, the more I learned and loved it. The older my children grew, the less they needed my time. Though this did not stop me from inserting myself into their time and learning, I had devoted myself enough to allow them more freedom. And my own grew again.
Over the years I have had times when I could not paint; life weighing too heavily or time too tight to allow the muse near. Sad people make sad paintings. Stressed people make none.
But when I do create I become so much more motivated to create more. Success in anything is generated by practice. The more you do it, the better you get.
That is what Mr. Nagel meant. If- you have the stamina to persevere, you will find it easier and easier to show what you have in your heart and mind through your art.
And the more you can and do, the more you want to. A joy for life.
Here I took all the stress and thought devoted to planning a major family event and released it when the event had beautifully been celebrated. Expressing a new idea was delightful to me.
Thank you Mr. Nagel. You treated me like an adult. You offered to teach me with respect. You knew when to push me and when to leave off. You practiced your own artistry, and showed us how important it was to your life. You taught by leading, you were also a friend.
When I graduated from high school, you chose me for Best Art Student in Graduating Class Award. I was so honored.
And I have painted well over 500 painting now, and you were right!
Have a peaceful day, a happy week to all.