What week is it again?

Caged Bird Singing Necklace - available for purchase in my Etsy Shop! https://www.etsy.com/listing/197542948/caged-singing-bird-necklace?ref=shop_home_active_12

Caged Bird Singing Necklace – available for purchase in my Etsy Shop! https://www.etsy.com/listing/197542948/caged-singing-bird-necklace?ref=shop_home_active_12

Seriously, I’ve lost all track of what week it is for school.

At this point, I know that we’ve hit the mid-point. And I’m still frustrated with what I consider a lack of progress.

But I know it’s not really a lack of progress.

I know that I’ve actually progressed quite a bit. My drawings look like what they’re supposed to look like. Not perfect, not wonderful, but at least the resemblance is there. I can look at it and identify my original purpose. That’s pretty good, compared to where I was when I started back in August.

Yesterday, I realized something about that progress – or lack of progress – too.

I was at the Dallas Art Museum (which rocks, by the way), and I just happened to wander past their Horchow Auditorium at five minutes to three. Which only matters because they were offering a free concert (part of the ‘Bancroft Family Concerts’) at three, and they were herding people into the auditorium for it.

So I went.

They performed ‘Maria’s Waltz,’ ‘Hymn’ (both by Bruce Patti), and then ‘Piano Quintet in F minor’ by Brahms.

It was awesome.

And it was while I was sitting in there, listening to the musicians, watching them and how passionately they played, how they literally rocked in their seats, totally immersed in what they were doing, feeling the music, that I realized something.

They probably didn’t play that well when they got started.

Simple realization, right? But so important.

I remember, way back when, I played violin for a year or two in elementary school. We didn’t play anything fancy. In fact, I remember playing lots and lots and lots of whole notes. They seemed to go on forever – just stroking the bow across the string, holding it. Ugh. But it was part of learning, and without it, I never could have moved on to anything else.

That’s what I’m doing right now in art class. I’m learning how to play those whole notes. I need to learn where to put my fingers, how to hold things properly, how to set them up, how to tune them. And maybe I’m not learning it that quickly, maybe I want to go more quickly, but I need to keep playing those goddamn whole notes until I get them right.

One week in!

"Blind" contour drawing of my hand from day one...

“Blind” contour drawing of my hand from day one…

Being on the student side of the desk was about as weird as I thought it would be.

This, my first semester of my AA of Art degree. I’m in two classes that each meet twice a week for three hours at a go. The last time I sat in a classroom like that was in 2005. So, yeah, this is definitely a little bit different.

Really, just about everything is different.

First off, I actually have more degrees than my teachers (mine are in English, though). And I have more teaching experience than one of them. The one who has more teaching experience than me has most of it at the 4th grade level, though, which really comes through in her classroom management style.

Second, the students are so annoying! Seriously! I love the fact that they all say, “I’m not straight out of high school. I graduated in 2013.” Wow, a whole year?! Your level of maturity must be off the scale. That must be why you have absolutely no idea of what TMI means, and you announce that you’ve had an ant bite on your nipple to the whole class. Thanks; we needed to know that.

Third, the total apathy is there. I really thought positively about college students. Okay, maybe not that positively, but before, when I judged the students, it was as a teacher. Now, as a peer, I have to say how insanely sad and disappointed I was to hear fellow students complain about being forced to take a government class because they don’t care about the government. I want to shout at them – “You should care! Maybe someday you will care, and you’ll regret it then!” (Ooooh, my aching old fogey head!) And the lack of supplies with students saying that they don’t have the money. Yeah, I get that we’re all poor college students, but shouldn’t you at least buy the least minimum to get through it? Sigh.

Fourth, yeah, I’m so judging my teachers, too. Not having a copy of the syllabus, saying your students can get it online, but then admitting you don’t know where it is online…telling us you’ll always let us out about an hour early (for a three hour class) because you want time to eat in between classes you’re teaching…not good things. So easy for me to lose respect for you as a teacher.

Finally, the big positive:

I’ve learned stuff!

From my design class, I’ve learned a lot of vocab and worked towards my first project, realizing that planning really is an important part of it. That makes a difference since I just picked up some canvases this weekend that I want to do…something…to. I’m not just jumping in. I’m thinking about it, and I’ll mock some up before I actually do it.

From my drawing class, I learned about lines. Which, to me, sounds way basic. But I’ve found it helpful to pay attention to when lines curve, go diagonal, or are straight.

I was working on a cross-stitch pattern, and when I examined the images and text, I used the principles I learned in my design class to make the letters look good (or, at least, I think they look good), and I used the knowledge about lines from my drawing class to figure out how to recreate images on canvas. I noticed lines that, once, I would have called curved, but there were actually some straight lines in there! Who knew you could learn things in school?!?

Oh my God, I’m an undergrad again!

Image by StockImages via freedigitalphotos.net

Image by StockImages via freedigitalphotos.net

It happens on Monday, although I suppose technically since I’ve already made the first payment on my tuition, it’s really that I’m already an undergrad.

It’s kind of freaky – I have just a few degrees already to my name, and I haven’t attended a community college for over 10 years. (Although I taught at them for over 10 years…) I’m about to turn 39. And I have very little skill at my chosen major: art.

So why am I doing it?

Well, number one – student loans are evil things. They are money that you expect to somehow, some way, some day have the ability to pay back. Yet even if you have plenty of degrees, the jobs aren’t always there, and if they are there, they are often not what you want to do. And the student loans are also evil because they keep you in school, they get you addicted to liking school, to liking getting an education. Then – wham! Suddenly you’re all done with the degree and then you get these letters in the mail and realize that you have to pay more money in a month than you make on a car payment. And that you don’t have that money.

That’s definitely part of it. But the other part of it – number two, let’s call it – is the more important one. That’s the one that says that I do want education to be fun.

I’m not saying I haven’t enjoyed all of my degrees to some extent, but I’ve always been super worried about what I could/would do with them. Super worried about what my grades were. Super worried about all the work I’d be having to do.

This degree, though, doesn’t have that stress attached to it. Yes, I want to do well at it because I like doing well at things. But I also want to do well because I enjoy it. I like art. I’m not very good at it, although I try, and I’m hoping that taking actual art classes will help with it.

I’m also going in with no plans of what I will do with it in the future. Maybe I’ll love it, get semi-talented through practice, and wind up working with kids, doing some sort of art therapy. Maybe I’ll wind up offering free classes at nursing homes. Maybe I’ll just be able to design better cross stitch patterns and better jewelry and 3d art. Who knows?

The thing is, I’m going into this with a completely open mind, and hopefully my brain will get full of art stuffs.