At age 16 I decided that academia was not for me (something I have since recanted), and went off for a year of art school. I felt I was too much of a free spirit to be reined in by the local higher education and college institutions. This was also about the time that I realized that maybe I wasn’t such a free spirit after all.
The art school was set apart from the rest of Cambridge Regional College by 10 miles and a world of professionalism. My teachers were wonders never before seen. My 3-D teacher had three student girlfriends and was unable to save my total lack of wood/metal/plastic working skills, something that to this day I still struggle with. (Don’t even talk to me about home improvements)
My art history teacher could sit with one leg crossed over the other and still have both feet touch the floor. He always valued what the male students had to say with bright smiles and never looked the female students in the eyes. To this day I can’t remember a thing he taught apart from the weird leg thing.
My printmaking teacher was a neurotic mess around whom, in direct light, you could see a shimmering brown aura that caused confusion and fear amongst the hippie students. She sipped strong coffee from a large mug that never seemed to empty.
My 2-D art teacher was a miserable man with an eccentric artist’s temperament. He smoked profusely, had daily pot breaks which he returned from giggly, and hated me with a passion. He loved to single me out and make me the example of what an art student wasn’t.
One particular project had been to observe people in motion at the swimming pool. We’d all done sketches and drawings to make into detailed pencil and ink scenes. I had spent a couple of days on mine, as had everyone, and I drew what I thought was a pretty good picture of a couple of people in mid-dive into the pool. My teacher stood behind me and grabbed my picture, lifting it for all to see. He asked what this piece of crap was. He looked genuinely confused and then pointing to the divers, announced with a smirk that they looked like they were flying. I know I shouldn’t have, but I quickly retorted that of course they were flying; doesn’t everyone fly at the swimming pool? He tore my picture into three pieces and then stormed out, roaring that he was an artist and shouldn’t have to deal with this. He returned giggly and never said another word.
Somehow I achieved a passing grade with “Merit,” but by that point I had become sure that I did not need art school to be an artist and went to special effects make-up school for three years instead.