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Raising (or Lowering) the Bar
15 November 2004 A kid draws a circle, inserts a couple of dots and a squiggly dash. Mom and Dad go wow. More drawings result and a bar of accomplishment is set. Time passes. Lots of loopy circle faces are drawn. Maybe animals with big eyes and crooked sticks for limbs and blocky houses with lollypop trees. No pressure. Only the kick of making marks with a pencil or crayon.
If the child has continued to be fascinated with picture making, it's now time to raise the bar. If the kid gets lucky and has a good art teacher or the parents take more than a passing interest, new plateaus are discovered. Paint, color, "shading" and possibly working from life, drawing real things or scenes, can be some of the possibilities. And like those adjustable basketball hoops that can be raised as the kid grows taller, the artistic bar grows higher as grade school and middle school give way to high school and beyond.
Both formal art school and a disciplined program of self education can make you a good artist. Neither is better or worse but, like two roads that lead to the same destination, each offers a different experience. Supposing art school feels like the right choice. Writing from experience, art school will immediately raise the bar to formidable new heights. Dizzying worlds of color, sophisticated drawing concepts, light and shadow, composition, pattern and movement, not to mention classes full of talented peers, all of which can jolt your confidence with a douse of reality and for the first time in your artistic life force you to hustle to clear the bar.
You're now grown up and doing it. And wether a full or spare time practitioner, painting continues to hold a place in you heart. The bar has been raised enough times that you've taken on the responsibility of asking "how high?". This may also be the point where you ponder the question "or how low?"
Copyright © 2005 - All Rights Reserved - Charles Sovek