Friday, September 14, 2012

An Open Letter to My Painting Students


Dear Painting Students,

                Today your monochromatic paintings were due. I wanted to make you see value in the absence of color variation. Can you force someone to see value? Something we look about every day, and yet somehow it’s invisible? I explained it to you, but not until I took the brush from your hand and said, “It’s dark here. And here it’s light.”  Then you painted every other apple the same way. During the critique, you said the things that I said to you. I hadn’t realized you were listening. I often felt useless in class as you nodded at me. I saw you tease each other and imitate me. “Slow down! Slow down!” You all could get away with murder with me as your teacher, but you don’t try. Why not?
                And you, sweet thing, couldn’t do what I asked. “Don’t paint with water, paint with paint!” And I walk three steps before you drench your canvas with gray water.  But your painting, with all the drips and broken figures and colors all wrong, yours is my favorite. And I told you so. I don’t think you believe me. I want that damn painting in my house, Batman and all. Everyone else… your paintings look like something I would paint. How did that happen? And just as I look at my own work, I love and hate them all.
                The channels that it came across, I don’t understand. I’m a dirty and wounded girl standing in front of fresh flowers using the word value over and over again. Values I accidently sent into your brain.

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