Artists of the Future

I’ve been telling people that my next career will be as a high school art teacher. I don’t know if that is where I’ll end up, but it does give me something to work toward that requires a broad range of skills and a solid understanding of the creative/artistic world. And I like to teach. I was a teacher’s aid in College and taught community ed photo classes for a bunch of years, among other things.  I really enjoyed that. I learn better when I have to review and organize the data well enough to teach others. I enjoy the give and take. And, though I’ll never admit it, I like the feeling of respect/admiration/look-up-to-it-ness that is available if you are a good teacher. And I’m pretty good.

And at the moment, I have 3 built in students I can teach, indoctrinate and expose to what I think is neat and fun – my kids.

R is 12 and we share altogether to many shared hang-ups. One of our basic challenges is the need to do everything, try everything. While she does well at everything she tries, she isn’t becoming amazing at any one thing. She doesn’t give any one thing a chance to really develop. She’s always been a pretty good with a pen, maybe just a little better than average, but she hasn’t spent a lot of time with it. This year she is taking art and doing well and really liking it. I’ve been impressed at moments of real creative thought. Maybe this one will catch her interest more than the half a dozen other things she’s got going on.


This is from a quick sketch that she did years ago that I liked and stuck in a book and found a while ago.


A few weeks ago her class had a contest where they had to design an environmental Google logo. I was impressed with what she came up with.

A is 9 and is naturally good at everything he does.  Art isn’t really his thing – he doesn’t sit down to do it for its sake. But when he is forced to sit quietly he’s pretty good with a pencil and paper and with a hunk of clay. He likes creating his ‘creatures’. Some day he plans on creating a comic book full of them. When ever he gets some clay he’s taking to sculpting them. He created an entire army of them:


K is my dedicated artist. She spends hours drawing and coloring, cutting and pasting. When she was learning to write she came up with her own method of holding a pencil/pen with the tips of her fingers – looks stange but it gives her very tight control. From the beginning I was always amazed at her control and detail. Plus I just love to watch her do her thing.


R started a pottery class where they learned how to make little pinch pot creatures. We’ve had two previous pinch pot lessons at home so all three of them know the concept. I had R teach us how to build the creatures. She is a natural teacher (she feels the need to be in charge and teaching provides that) and she did a good job. They all made their own creature and R made tounges for the other two and they all came out very fun. I like mine, but I’m a little jealous because I didn’t do a tounge – but my nose it cool. Did the Karl Malden thing. I’ll drop pictures in when we’ve painted and fired them.

They may never be artists, but at least they’ll have the opportunity that I never had to explore and see if they like it.

Plus I just like the natural sense of beauty that comes out of their young minds and fingers. It isn’t based on years of education and critical reviews. It just a natural effort that is fun and natural and pure. The gift of childhood.

24 hours a day – every day


As I re-initiate this journey I need to revitalize my focus. I need to start watching, seeking for those images that deserve to be captured, ideas that will inspire me. My first effort was to build a portable art packet. Pencils, pens, paper – everything I need to draw and write. Always with me, easy to get to. Problem is that I’m not comfortable with those mediums, so it doesn’t come naturally. I’m not comfortable enough with the method to easily capture the idea or image. The effort to capture gets in the way of the act.

A couple of weeks ago I started carrying my little camera around. It made a tiny rectangular bulge in my front left pocket – but I never pulled it out. It was available, easy to use, but not obvious.

Last week I started carrying my big camera with me. It’s in the way, kind of a hassle to haul around. I’m always conscious of it and I’m comfortable with it. It feels good in my hand – like it is supposed to be there. My hand forms around it, strokes it, knows it. It is easy to use, I understand it. I don’t have to think about using it. So when I see an image that I like it is a natural act to pull it out, swing it up and capture the shot.

And the result is I find myself watching, searching and finding. My awareness to the world around me is coming back. I’m seeing the shapes and colors around me that I’ve been walking by and ignoring. I’m searching my mind for ways to use images, ways to tell stories about what I’m seeing around me.

I enjoy the feeling again.

I read the following quote from ‘The True Adventures of John Steinbeck, Writer’ by Jackson J. Benson that explores this idea. I don’t see this trait as specific to writers – I believe it applies to all creative types:

‘How does an author write a serious novel? Does he come up with some characters and a plot idea and start writing, using the stock phrases he has accumulated and throwing in a little description here and there? Does the felicitous sentence come by accident, do those small perceptions that so truly bring us into life come to him at the typewriter carried by the muse, and are those insights into the human condition at heart of his work evolved out of the sudden inspiration provided by an approaching deadline and the need to pay the gas bill? Not if the writer is Steinbeck and not, I suspect, for any other author of similar stature.’

‘It is rather simply a matter of living as a novelist twenty-four hours a day, every day, whether you happen to be writing a novel or not. Everything, EVERYTHING, is material, from your thoughts about your wife, your dreams and nightmares, to how your neighbor talks when he is embarrassed and how a friend looks at you when he wants something and what the local grocer does when he puts on his apron or makes change for a customer. Everything. Most of us could neither stand the burden or bear the exposure of privacy.’

‘The life of a novelist should probably really be a history of the constant gathering of bits and pieces of observation and insight, and the personal suffering and human concern which generates the pattern for the pieces and the need to express that pattern. For a novel such as East of Eden or The Winter of Our Discontent the novelist lives a preparation of years, accumulating hundreds, even thousands of small items. To describe the process from the outside is nearly impossible – even from the inside, as in the notebooks left by Henry James, it cannot be more than suggested.’

The creative muse is an always on effort. You aren’t creating art twenty four-hours a day – but you need to be an artist twenty-four hours a day.