Saturday, February 4, 2012

The Good The Bad The UGLY

***I've added to this post a few hours after writing it -- at the end of it.***

This week has not been good for me. I usually carry an imaginery box in my soul/heart/head for all of the "small stuff" that would get to me if I let it. It works well most of the time, helping to keep my disposition a glass-half-full optimist. BUT....every once in a while, the Fates conspire to either hand me a motley selection of troubles that cannot be stuffed in the box, or the box becomes over-filled and spills out, sometimes in a really angry vent or a really dark melancholy. This week, I got both.

Before I get into it further, let me share the GOOD stuff! This month at the Paper Traders blog, the theme is LACE. Come join us! Here is the art sample I made for this theme, which you can see featured along with the art of my fellow blog team members:

As what I make is always for some functional end, this altered cd was also made for an altered cd valentine swap in another one of my yahoo groups, Altered Designs. Two birds - one stone, people. {winkwink}

Next, the BAD. I've nothing finished to show on the art journaling front because I am still into just backgrounds, but I have taken photos of how some of my pages have evolved and I will share in my next post. And the reason this is labelled as BAD is because my bad. I just do not feel like dealing with processing all those photos right now. But I will, I will.

Now, the UGLY. I have been taking online classes in art for 3 years now, and have usually been open to trying new teachers and taking chances. But I've found myself getting more and more irritated at bad or last-minute planning and obvious busywork in more and more of the courses I take. I do not need anyone to give me anymore busywork thank you very very much. And I DEFINITELY do not need or want to PAY for it.

Right now I am reading Life Is a Verb by Patti Digh on my Kindle for $4, and one of her things is to get us to value ourselves so that we can tell our stories. I truly feel that valuing myself enough to speak up for my rights as a student -- especially if I'm a paying one -- has to manifest itself in my telling my story as a student.

If it's not I lie? If I lie...then it's someone else's story. Digh goes into recounting how she facilitated a company's employee moral improvement. After asking some well-placed questions, what became apparent to Digh was how all the complaints centered around how "they" were inflicting the wrongs. No employees were using the word "I" to place themselves in the story. The employees were giving power over them to the people they perceived had taken it away to begin with - the employers. She also mentions that our forefathers did not ask the King permission to rebel. The King did not give them a grant to pursue this little rebellion. Rosa Parks, permission request. Our forefathers, Parks, MLK all had their "I"'s engaged and active. It is what spurred them past the "They are holding me down" and on to action. They were all present in their moments.

In today's world, we don't have similar Big Moments that draw us out. Our challenge is to grab the little moments and make them ours. Reading this, it reminded me of our little online art community world here, and how politically correct (pc) it has become. First instituted to keep peace (I believe), it's now become a sort of deadening choker around the collar of free thinking. We should all be giving our honest opinions of the classes we've taken, yet we apparently are all fawning over ourselves to see who can first crown our teachers as goddesses of perfection most times. I think it is smart and fair to assume that no teacher is perfect, nor any class. Yet, think - when is the last time you heard ANYONE online say anything critical about a teacher by name? What, they cannot all be perfect. Sorry. Going further, if I were to believe that everyone I know online is as perfect as they appear on their blogs and communities, then I'd be dumb as donuts. Yet, that is the assumption, is it not? Never a bad thought or even any troubles.

To me, it is fake. And that's not a true story. And I'm as big a coward as the rest of you, but at least I can say I'm not happy with the caliber of art classes taught online. I just don't mention names. That's how I do it. I think an awful lot more people need to start speaking up, too. And I don't believe those of you who just ooh and aah over every teacher you have, either. Let's pretend that we attend high school in our 30's in order to eliminate immaturity -- you wouldn't label every one of your teachers there as wonderful beyond belief. I even often read people giving their online art teachers the credit for their own talents! There is no "I" there, for sure. It just puzzles me to no end.

I recently had an email conversation with a dear friend of mine where we discussed this. She's one of those who is quite vocal with the oohs and aahs, so I asked her WHY she limits her real story criticism to secret emails? She was like, because that is the game that is played, for her because she hopes to one day be the teacher and adored by minions. But she also plays it that way because she says that others know it's just fake praise that keeps the "they" happy. Wow. I cannot begin to describe how wrong I think this is, and she knows how I feel...and even agrees. But she also thinks I'm silly for not just accepting it and getting in line.

Digh also stresses how often "I" feels wrong and hard. In this aspect, I soooo get in line with that.

Edited to add this, a few hours later:

Well, I now wish I hadn't posted this, at the same time being proud I had the guts to vent like that. I think I discovered first hand why no one criticizes class. It feels better. I'm feeling badly that I've hurt anyone's feelings. And I probably didn't stress enough that my thoughts were more with other students than teachers. I've had many many awesome teachers that I have been very happy with. I think I just should have written this better, if at all. And with the week I've had, I really doubt I could do a good job. So please, just treat this whole entry as a vent and a learning experience for me. Sometimes when something is bothering me, I have to put it out there in order to move the evolution of my thought. In my defense, I try to be as honest as possible, warts and all. I mean, I own this. I could have said it more diplomatically and thoroughly. So perhaps from now on, I'll try to remember to couch things as, here it is, show me where I'm wrong. Cuz, that is how I meant this as I was writing it, just forgot to say it. xoxo
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