A Letter to the Art Teacher…

First off I need to apologize to the person/artist who actually wrote the following letter, as I don’t remember where I read this, but I found it sufficiently useful to copy and save it. Now I want to share it with everyone I know, art teachers and students alike. There is so much wisdom in this simple piece that I re-read it often in order to prepare myself to meet new students, and help them begin their creative journeys. I fully appreciate the excitement and anxiety of that first lesson, as I have been there many times myself.

An artist may be a brilliant painter, but not a good teacher or communicator. Artists may take up teaching for all kinds of reasons especially in today’s economy. Ultimately there should be only one true reason to teach: to inspire others. A teacher must have limitless compassion for the student and a true desire to see that person create joyfully.

Dear Teacher,

I am so excited to be here in this class. Excited, nervous and scared. I have always wanted to create and I am now finally getting the chance. The art store was a small piece of heaven on earth: colors and textures and blank papers full of potential. I have all of my supplies and can’t wait to begin.

I hope I fit in. I don’t know any of these other students and they are probably all really good. I can see that you know many of them and they all seem to be friends. Please introduce me and make me feel welcome. Please ask that your students each share in the creative process. I am nervous and don’t want to intrude.

I know this may sound silly, but it took a good deal of courage to come here. By being in a class, I will be creating in front of other people and exposing my work (my self) to judgment. I am not a weak person, but this idea scares me. I am not confident in my abilities as an artist and I am not ready to be judged by others. Please give me words of encouragement, as the slightest doubt of my ability may crush my spirit. You will know if this happens, as I will not have the courage to return to class.

I’m ready for what ever you tell me, and your choice of words really, really matters. I respect you as an artist and I know that you are talented and knowledgeable about your craft. Your praise means more to me than you will ever know. I realize that my work needs criticism in order for me to grow as an artist, but please be gentle and mindful of your comments. I will remember your words for years to come.

Thank you for your patience and generosity of spirit in sharing your knowledge. These qualities are paramount in a teacher. If you are patient with me I will absorb your knowledge as fast as I am able.

I am ready now to create.

Yours truly,
My Creative Self

Yours in ink!