Saturday, June 13, 2009

Well, perhaps this is a change in the weather....

It will be a new thing, to have just teenagers and/or adults in my class when it starts on Monday. I've always had a principle of letting anyone into my class who was seriously interested in the subject, and I dislike leaving anyone out on purely technical grounds -- especially since I myself would have hated to be excluded from a class based solely on my age. Yes, I was precocious, and not every child with an interest is capable of sustaining it through specialized training. But I'd rather give someone a chance to prove themself if they're determined than tell them to wait until they've met some arbitrary requirement...and even if they're not yet capable of the finest hand-eye coordination or appreciation of scale or shading, it's still possible to plant the seeds of solid technique and see them start to sprout, and know that if that mental and practical trajectory continues then yes, the student will progress and one will have done one's part.

And on the other hand, sometimes there are older students who have become so self-consciously attached to what pleases others and suffices well-enough for them that they have a dire phobia of taking risks and exploring, of letting go of the safety that's served them well -- even greater than the young child's fear of letting go of the circle heads, round eyes and triangular noses that everyone understands as adequately shorthanded information to decipher a human face. This stylistic rigidity is a frustrating (for the teacher at least) plateau, even though it's far easier then to grasp and understand the naturalistic and dynamic techniques once one dares to let go and actually do the experimentation.

When it comes to having an evening class, though, there's a lot less room to bend the age limits. Whether for the sake of a regular bedtime or of social protocols or of studio management, it's hard to countenance having unaccompanied 8-11 year-olds in a class that runs from 6:30 to 9:00 at night -- especially when older students are all too easily neglected in favour of nurturing and supporting the younger artists in their fledgling phases.

I do have some apprehensions about teaching solely to a teens-plus audience this quarter. I hope that they aren't too jaded to see the value of foundational and refreshing, mentally-jumpstarting artistic exercise. I hope that they have enough of a capacity for the fantastic and fascinating to not regard my eclectically-rambling lectures and examples as too childish for their attention. I hope that the energy and flexibility that I've had to develop in dealing mainly with children (and their overburdened schedules) has not deprived me of the firmness to guide and set standards and expect visible results from those who are better able to direct their own time. I hope they have enough originality to not just slavishly copy from my vast morgue of photographs...but I also hope that they've got enough self-discipline to see the value in working from both ends and all ends of media vs. live 3D sittings.

And of course, I certainly hope that enough of them sign up for the class to make up a decent number for partner-drawing activities, as I don't know where I'm likely to find an art model with reasonable rates on this short notice....

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