A Great Art Teacher

I sat in my car by the cliffs on a very wet morning, half watching the waves pummel the coastline and half scrolling through my phone while I contemplated taking the dog out for a walk in this unpredictably drizzly day. I came across this post on NPR about A Great Teacher, this particular article was about an elementary school art teacher.

After reading through the quick and cute illustrated article, I took the dog for a walk (despite the rain) and while we walked I thought about all the great art teachers I had. I tried to remember back if there was a moment that they boosted me up or that they let me down, a defining moment that led me down the path to become an artist and art teacher myself.  But all I could remember was that they were my heroes, they were in charge of the space that I wanted to be all day long: the art studio.

A great art teacher | the dirt | Jenni Ward ceramic sculptureAs all these thoughts were mingling in my head, I found myself crouched down in the mud trying to get my camera to focus on these beads of water lined up perfectly on the blades of grass along the path. They were beautiful and tiny and so easy to pass over. I was reminded of a very early art lesson that started with something to the tune of train your eye to see everything, then train your hands to create what you see which was a more poetic was of saying, “We’re sketching landscapes. If you don’t see lollipop shaped trees, don’t draw any.”

What if I hadn’t had great art teachers to train my eyes or my hands, where would I be? From elementary to high school to university, this group of talented misfits gave me a safe, creative space to enjoy who I was and become who I am. I am forever grateful.

Awhile back I wrote a post about Why I Teach Community Clay Classes and after 15+ years of teaching, I hope that I’ve done (and continue to do) justice to my responsibilities as an art teacher.

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