In Part I, the broad question about the importance of art in our world was addressed. I now wonder, Am I good enough? How can I improve?
I’m afraid I will never believe I am good enough. But I am determined and can’t seem to quit being an artist so I might as well improve and learn as much as I possibly can. In order to improve, I enrolled in undergrad art classes four years ago at a local university. In the back of my mind lingered an idea, the same one that has whispered in my ear for over 15 years. Will I ever be able to study art in graduate school? Driving to class one day, while my children were at their school, I thought, maybe I can do it. But do I really have the energy and ability to work, raise children and be a graduate student? As it turns out, there was really no question. I knew I had to try.
Now, miraculously, the end of the painting graduate program draws near and something that seemed so distant, so impossible, so large, looming and challenging is shifting before my very eyes from being right in FRONT of me to right BEHIND me. And it has been both daunting and dashing. The workload has crushed me and elevated me. The professors are critical and accepting. They demand and they give. And it has been hard and easy – hard because I have such a tremendous amount to learn and easy because I am infinitely grateful. Waiting for so many years to return makes the opportunity to study on a graduate level feel like a dream…a figment of my imagination that has finally shifted its way into the real world.
Though the workload has been great, when you love something, the work becomes a joy. That is what the program means to me – not a piece of paper or a line item on my resume. The school experience has allowed me to see improvement in my work and in my ideas. More importantly, I am learning about the meaning of art, the purpose of art in our world, and the history of art. I am beginning to consider how all this applies to the work I create.
Now that the end of the program is near, a shift in work focus is eminent. Instead of working on technical skills, I am working on ideas and how best to present the ideas. In the book, Why is That Art, by Terry Barrett, the author dedicates a section to Aristotle and how his studies apply to art. He believed successful artwork presents a subject in a way that invited the viewer to THINK and that art provides us with knowledge of the world. Barrett explains that the successful artist uses expression to present nature without relying only on mimetic skill.
And this leads me to another topic for another time – deciding what ideas to express and how to do so. Until then, thank you for your time! Off to work!