Identity and cats
Thanks to all who have written encouraging comments on last week's blog post regarding my first successful art exhibition! As you can probably imagine, I am still mulling it all over. Getting rid of self-limiting beliefs I have held dear for nearly 28 years can't be done overnight. And isn't easy either. At least I can pinpoint with ease where my 'I am not an artist' belief comes from. It was firmly ingrained by my first art teacher in college. I've never quite understood why he disliked (or was it even hate?) me so much. But I turned from a very creative kid into somebody who focussed on perfecting techniques instead. Not only did he tell me to my face and in front of all my classmates that my drawing or painting was shitty, he would even tear it up. Now that's a real confidence booster...
Unfortunately, nobody was either able or willing to protect a sensitive 12-year-old from such a bully. He told my mother that he treated me the way he did because I should not think that I had what it takes to go to Art School. Never mind that I had never ever thought of going there in the first place. Fellow teachers I asked for help were merely telling me that art wasn't important enough to make a fuss. Luckily, I had a very different teacher the next year and I briefly enjoyed art classes again. Unfortunately, the rest of my college time I had to put up with the bully again. I skipped classes as often as I legally could and when I was there, I solved crosswords instead. And the rest is history. I became a scientist but wasn't happy as I did not fit the system. When I decided to quit and try to be a craftswoman it took till last week to see I was sending a mixed message. And that made a mess. Time to clean it up. I am aware that this might alienate people as they don't understand, but that's a risk I am prepared to take. Life is too short and very precious!
To end this blog post on a lighter note: the cats. As I am working on two projects at the moment, I've set up two frames. When I came into the studio this morning, both chairs were already occupied. Luckily, I was allowed to sit on one of them after breakfast. Sammie needed to harass some dragonflies and bring me one as a present (no worries, it was undamaged and released into the garden). Unfortunately, this is what happened during my lunch break:
What was I to do? As a good cat-mum, I just couldn't shoo either one of them from their respective chairs and resume working on either embroidery project. That's just not done and would disregard the Geneva Convention on the proper treatment of cats. Instead, I decided to sit behind my laptop and write a blog post :).
Your history is interesting. I got the same thing from my 9th grade art teacher. Until, adulthood, I figured I wasn't artistic. However, I became a designer of embroidery 30+ years ago and love it. Eventually, became certified as a teacher, judge, appraiser, needle artist, etc. So never mind the short-sighted teachers. Jump in and enjoy.
Thank you for your encouraging comment Carlene! Let's enjoy our creative careers!
What a horrible way for a teacher to behave! He was supposed to TEACH you, not tear you down. No doubt he was threatened by your skill and creativity, and that's what brought on his bad behaviour. It's still an unacceptable way to act when his job was to nurture you and the other students. No doubt he was a frustrated and ineffectual artist. And jealous.
I've often wondered Suz if teaching was his way of paying the bills. It is hard to make a living out of art and, although you might not like it, teaching will pay the bills. And I imagine that the dissatisfaction needed a valve...
This kind of thing still happens to this day. My daughter was told she was stupid at the age of 6. She is very creative but having trouble with reading and calculating. We took here to a different school and now she is doing ok with reading and writing and she is praised because she is so creative. But the damage that this one teacher has done is incredible. With every new subject she says I cannot do it and starts to cry. So there is a long way to go she's is 8 now. Unbelievable that these people are to teach vulnerable children.
Oh, that breaks my heart Esme! Especially as that was said about me too. Science has now shown that many creative people struggle with reading/writing and calculating. I've found that English is the language I can write most easily; Dutch and German are far worse. And there are so many solutions now to mask these 'weaknesses'; spell checker and calculators. However, I am at a loss how to make a totally non-creative/non-imiaginative person make something. There's no app for that :).
Hi Jessica! I see I'm not the only one who was discouraged in Arts class! My drawing teachers always saw me as average, which I probably was without encouragement, and praised only the children who could already draw. Io I never really learnt how to draw nor paint, since I lost all interest in it, not being able to be proud of any of my 'artwork'. But can you imagine, that I have now published an illustrated book on what it's like to be different, i.e. gifted, highly sensitive or just not fitting in (it's called Le Petit Hérissé and can be bought on Amazon). So it's never too late to find one's style in the art field!
Well done for publishing your first book Marina!
You are an amazing and gifted artist!
Thank you Nancy! I threw the monsters out :). Now I can choose which frame to work on. Oh, the luxury!
I see that I am not the only one who has been well-trained by cats. (Well-done, kitties!)
Yes, they are very good at that, aren't they? But I am not bad myself. They were rioting a little too much, so I threw them out. I've position myself in such a way that I can't see their pleading faces pressed against the window...
I wish teachers remembered how much damage they can do. For every tale of a nurturing, encouraging, inspiring teacher, there's always one like yours.
Yes, Rachel, some people should not be allowed to work with children. I know of at least one girl who changed schools thanks to this one. But, I feel much better for writing it down. I think I can let go now :).
What a dreadful experience to have had Jessica! It’s incredible someone could behave in such a way, let alone when they are meant to be teaching and encouraging.
Oh, I know Catherine; those rotten bills! I remember sitting at the public defense of my doctoral thesis and thinking how the hell did I get here? You are on a track and you are good at what you are doing so you just keep following it. But at some point the questions come and you need to deal with them. One way or the other. I wish you good luck with choosing the right thing for you at this moment in time! And if you ever want an honest chat on the matter, don't hesitate to write me an email!
Hoi Mari-jan, gweldig, nog zo'n duidelijk creatief en kunstzinnig persoon die door de 'vaklui' niet herkend werd. Vraag me langzaam af hoe deze heren aan hun lesbevoegdheid zijn gekomen :).
Susan M. Knight
What a terrible experience for you to endure, thankfully you rose above it and are a wonderful Artist.
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