Mom was determined that my sister and I experience and learn as many different things as we possibly could in life. One of these experiences was oil painting lessons. One of our neighbors was a painter, and word got out that she was going to teach lessons on oil painting. So mom signed me up.
So up the hill I walked to my lessons. I do not remember how often I went or for how long I took these lessons. But it was long enough to have painted at least two paintings that Mom proudly hung in her dining room. I now have them in a storage box in my garage.
I’ll tell you why they are not my favorite childhood creations and what I learned about art and creativity. It’s a lesson I’ve carried over in raising my girls.
While learning to paint was a good thing, how I learned was disappointing and gave me a negative attitude toward it. As you would think, my teacher was a good painter. The problem was she did not think that I was a good painter. So, everything I painted she touched up to her standard. Now, as adult, when I look at these paintings I do not feel proud of them. I do not know where I ended painting the objects and where she started painting on my painting. I do not think my mom understood what a big deal that was to me.
With my girls, what they create is what they create and as a mom I give my encouragement. The first time you do something is never going to be perfect, but most of the time imperfect is better! It’s the enjoyment in the practice, not the perfect end result.
The other thing my art teacher did was tell us what to paint. As my girls grew older, I realized many of their art teachers also did this. I understand that in a class there is a curriculum, which means guidelines and techniques to enhance it. But since the arts are about exercising creativity, I wish students could choose what they want to create so the expressions are fully theirs, whether abstract or traditional.
The way I was taught steered me away from wanting to paint throughout my life. I would rather my artwork not be perfect, but be fully mine.