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The Art Class

Even though this is a page on my blog, I decided to make it a post to encourage others to never give up on learning something new whether it be art, music, writing, etc. Never let anyone discourage you by their comments about your work, your appearance, or your methods of working. Be you

A TRUE STORY

In 9th Grade I began to try to find my footing in the world. I signed up for my first art class. I remember having to do art and music in grammar school, and I was in choir all through Jr. High and part of high school. I don’t know what sparked an interest in art for me at that time. It could have been that the new art teacher was young and good-looking; all the girls thought so.

I was having a great deal of fun learning contour drawing and other things. My art teacher seemed to like me a lot. He used to tease me about how bright red I blushed whenever he looked at, smiled at or talked to me. I liked and respected him so much. But the more he teased me, the more I became self-conscious about blushing so easily when I felt embarrassed. I started to feel a bit angry about this which conflicted with my feelings of having a huge crush on a teacher! So this time was very confusing for me emotionally.

One day we were working on drawings that we had started the previous day. He was sitting at his desk in the front of the room drawing also. When a couple of students went to him to turn in their drawings, they began laughing. So a group of kids walked up there to see what was so funny. I did, too, but when I arrived and saw his drawing I was deeply shocked and hurt. My face turned ten shades of red I’m sure. Everyone began laughing at me, and I began crying and ran to the bathroom. I ran into a stall, locked it and cried my heart out until someone came to get me; I don’t remember who.

There was a slightly overweight boy in my class who kids made fun of calling him “fatty” and “lard butt” all the time. I always felt sorry for him. He was just as hurt by the drawing our teacher had done. The drawing showed him in a running position with his arms out and his tongue hanging out. On the other side of the paper he drew me in a bikini with a huge smile and a very red face. It was so hurtful. If anything like that happened nowadays in school to a kid, the parents would most likely sue the teacher and the school if they so desired. But in the 1970’s, parents just didn’t react that way. Insensitive teachers like that got away with that kind of thing all the time. Also, I realize that if I had been more mature and stable emotionally, it may not have bothered me that much. Instead it crushed me. I wanted to drop his class right then, but I don’t think I could for some reason I can’t recall. I had to face him every day, and he said he was sorry. I acted like I had shrugged it off, but it had damaged my sense of worth and self-image deeply. I hated him after that. I didn’t talk to him any more unless I had to. I don’t even think I blushed any more for years. I never took art again until I went to college which turned out to be one of the things God used to heal me from that experience.

Before that experience I had always loved to doodle and draw. I used to draw stick people, trees, flowers, and houses with chimneys. Neither of the houses I had lived in had fireplaces, but I always wished they did. I used to draw houses with bright sunshine in the sky, green grass and birds in the trees. After the experience with my art teacher my houses were set in total darkness with yellow light in the windows and a moon in the sky. I drew them wishing I lived there in a “normal” home. I thought my family was the only one that was so screwed up. Fortunately, I never connected with the kids at school who came from alcoholic homes as well. I most likely would have ended up in trouble, going to parties, and drinking and doing drugs. I didn’t start any of that until I was 19. But God saved me from continuing that lifestyle when I was 27, and it was the best thing that ever happened to me.

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  1. It’s amazing that a teacher would do such a thing, even in the 70s. That kind of treatment can do long term damage to a kid’s self esteem. I glad you rediscovered art again in college. It’s a wonderful way to heal!

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    • Yeah. It was pretty devastating to me at the time. It is amazing that I blocked it out for so long until I was in therapy dealing with other issues, too. But that healing did send me on the road to art eventually which I am very thankful for. Thank you for your comments. 🙂

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  2. I applaud your bravery in telling this story. Some of my memories from high school — some of the insensitive and totally inappropriate things teachers said and did — horrify me to this day. Over the years when I considered what happened, I decided that there’s a type of person who goes into working with and around young people to make up for never having been part of the “in” crowd in their own youth; it’s like they are taking advantage of their position to play the popular bully or something. In any case, fortunately these cases are in the minority, and I hope that there is more accountability now. I’m glad you were able to re-discover art! Have you read Julia Cameron’s books? If not, I highly recommend them. I would start with her first one, called The Artist’s Way. I am thankful that God was able to bring you out of a self-destructive path and into something creative and beautiful!

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    • Thank you, Julia. I remember being in therapy over 20 years ago recalling that for the first time and how painful it still felt. My therapist at the time was really awesome in validating my feelings. I need to send a copy of it to him. I keep forgetting! 🙂 We are still in touch. God used him to restore me over many years time and prepare me for the awesome marriage I have now. 🙂
      I don’t recall the name Julia Cameron, but “The Artist’s Way” title sounds familiar. I will have to look her up! Thanks for the recommendation.

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