What happened when the art teacher was away

Yesterday’s drawing class was hard. All the drawing classes have been hard so that’s a redundant statement. But this one was hard for a new reason: our teacher was away, so we had a different teacher. This different teacher hadn’t been briefed on my status as Least Talented Person ever to enter art school, so I had to spend the whole lesson living with the low-level anxiety of slowly being revealed as the Least Talented Person ever to enter art school.

I hadn’t realised how comfortable I’d grown with my teacher, knowing that she knows I’m hopeless, but she also knows what I will be able to achieve, and kind of just gets me to do the best I can within the limits of what I’ll be able to do. The relief teacher didn’t know this and was pushing me to make things bigger, to finish way more than I’d be able to finish, to try way more than I would have time to try. This is important in a teacher, but not when the student is me.

It took me all the way back to my first few weeks. The sense of floundering at my easel. The physical sensations of flustering, heart racing, skin prickling, overheating. The single question turning over and over in my mind: What the fk am I doing enrolled in a visual arts course? No, but really, what the fk. I think I actually am the only person who has ever enrolled not because I have always enjoyed drawing, but because I’ve always not enjoyed it.

I’m trying to understand what it is about my brain that keeps making me start on things for which I have no natural talent instead of taking the things I am good at and focusing on getting better at them.

At the end of the day I had something that looked like an apple, a pomegranate and a pear. The colours weren’t anything like they had been on the originals, but they were lovely colours nonetheless. I had a teapot that looked like it could be finished into a teapot. And I had a background that looked like a big scribbled mess.

It did crystallise my thinking around what I’m going to do next semester. I’ll have to take time off. Apart from anything else, I won’t be able to keep up with the drawing while I’ve got fringe shows going on. But more than that, I need a bit of time to consolidate everything I’ve learned. The main thing I’ve learned is how to go about getting the things that I see onto the page. How to draw the lines and the angles and the distances between things. This is, in fact, amazing to me. Every week, the homework has made more and more sense and been more and more successful. I have, in that sense, learnt to draw. However, it still takes me a very, very long time to work out exactly what it is that I am seeing in order to get it onto the page, and this has a huge impact on how things go in class. I can’t really spend another semester being quite this hopeless.

That means I’ve got just one more class to go, and fingers crossed my regular teacher will be there and I will only have to cope with the knowledge that I’m hopeless not the added stress of having this fact discovered by a new teacher.