Informal survey

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Rebecca
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Informal survey

Post by Rebecca » Fri Aug 30, 2019 4:56 pm

I'm noticing a trend...
When I visit with fellow artists, the topic almost always swings to stories about and commands from their teachers. I never start these. The artist friends are long past their school days, but they virtually obsess about their teachers to the exclusion of all other art related subjects. Their eyes lock on mine, and they don't let up. I politely listen and attempt some sort of comment, but the point of these disclosures seems to not be about evolving conversation, but relief from some undisclosed anxiety. But I don't know. They may or may not know that I taught art classes, myself. It doesn't make any difference when I tell them. I can't get the topic to change, so I give up and find something else to do. What a missed opportunity for idea exchange!

I wonder, is this what artists everywhere talk about? What do you all end up hearing and talking about when you meet up with fellow artists?
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Re: Informal survey

Post by Andre Jute » Sat Aug 31, 2019 1:00 am

Sounds like they're insecure and invoke their teacher as a prophylactic defence against criticism. I imagine that if they know you, Rebecca, they also know you're rather knowledgeable about technique, and expect you to criticise theirs. It doesn't matter that you don't intend to; what matters to them is the expectation. A good question about people that insecure is what will satisfy them, and often the answer is nothing that you or anyone else can do. They are in some form of art as therapy for shortcomings of personality picked up or reinforced elsewhere, and it has already failed them and will always fail them. Artists who belong in whatever branch of the arts they practice are generally secure.

I think it is rather a good thing, unless you have startlingly original ideas about art, to honour your teacher by naming him when you cite the wisdom you received from him. My painting teacher left me his pochade box as his most talented student, and I think of him every time I use it. I cite John Braine as the master-thinker of one class of literature four decades after I wrote a book that sent it into a different direction. It's an honest thing to do, because none of us are born knowing everything or even everything relevant.

Classical music has a better attitude in this regard than painting: it is standard behaviour for singers and instrumental soloists to take regular refresher courses under old or new teachers; musicians have often told me what a confidence-builder it is. But that's a healthy sort of confidence, not a defence mechanism.
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Re: Informal survey

Post by Rebecca » Sat Aug 31, 2019 3:01 am

Andre Jute wrote:
Sat Aug 31, 2019 1:00 am
...honour your teacher by naming him when you cite the wisdom you received from him. My painting teacher left me his pochade box as his most talented student, and I think of him every time I use it. I cite John Braine as the master-thinker of one class of literature four decades after I wrote a book that sent it into a different direction. It's an honest thing to do, because none of us are born knowing everything or even everything relevant...
Do you commonly tell other artists about your teachers to the exclusion of other topics? Do they do that to you?
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Re: Informal survey

Post by Andre Jute » Sat Aug 31, 2019 9:58 am

Rebecca wrote:
Sat Aug 31, 2019 3:01 am
Andre Jute wrote:
Sat Aug 31, 2019 1:00 am
...honour your teacher by naming him when you cite the wisdom you received from him. My painting teacher left me his pochade box as his most talented student, and I think of him every time I use it. I cite John Braine as the master-thinker of one class of literature four decades after I wrote a book that sent it into a different direction. It's an honest thing to do, because none of us are born knowing everything or even everything relevant...
Do you commonly tell other artists about your teachers to the exclusion of other topics? Do they do that to you?
Of course not. But I wasn't so much thinking of artists together face to face as of writing about the arts.

The sort of artists I know -- writers, musicians, painters, actors, typographers -- rarely talk about art. The common subject is money.
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Re: Informal survey

Post by Andre Jute » Sat Aug 31, 2019 10:04 am

Duplicate post removed.
Last edited by Andre Jute on Sat Aug 31, 2019 10:12 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Informal survey

Post by mdmattin » Sat Aug 31, 2019 5:13 pm

Andre Jute wrote:
Sat Aug 31, 2019 10:04 am
The sort of artists I know -- writers, musicians, painters, actors, typographers -- are senior people well beyond anxiety about their art; they rarely talk about art. The most common subject is money.
Reminds me of Oscar Wilde's remark: “When bankers get together for dinner, they discuss Art. When artists get together for dinner, they discuss Money”

Rebecca, I have encountered artists, including myself, who mention their teacher as part of a initial encounter, as a way of providing a bit of context for one's general outlook and background, but not to the point where this dominates all future conversations. I find that many of my conversations have to do with the practicalities of getting time and space to do one's work, to show it, or to get paid for it. We might discuss the actual style and content of the work as well, but at our age, a lot of that has already been discussed and more or less settled years ago.

What sorts of things do your colleagues tend to talk about in relation to their teachers? Do they judge their own work in terms of their teachers and their commands? Do they complain about their teachers and how they treated them back in 1977?

Going through the early stages of becoming an artist is bound to be an intense experience that leaves its mark on you. But at some point we have to move on and make our own marks.

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Re: Informal survey

Post by Rebecca » Sat Aug 31, 2019 8:18 pm

mdmattin wrote:
Sat Aug 31, 2019 5:13 pm
...I have encountered artists, including myself, who mention their teacher as part of a initial encounter, as a way of providing a bit of context for one's general outlook and background, but not to the point where this dominates all future conversations...What sorts of things do your colleagues tend to talk about in relation to their teachers? Do they judge their own work in terms of their teachers and their commands? Do they complain about their teachers and how they treated them back in 1977?...
The commands and complaints are standard. In my opinion they could be saved for later when everyone knows each other a little better:
-- You can't go off on your own until you receive formal training from anointed teachers and institutions
-- Back in school they wouldn't let me learn nuts and bolts
-- I trained under [name of anointed teacher] so (you should agree) I have standing
-- Lots of quotes from [name of anointed text] offered like commands
-- Lots of quotes from [name of anointed teacher] offered like commands
-- Lots of quotes from hated teacher
-- In school I had [detailed] trouble with [name of discipline] so I do my own [always indescribable] thing
-- etc.

I never hear "context setting" when they talk at me. I hear territorial boundaries that prevent accord, belief system dogma that shuts out open one to one exchange, and learning barriers that cannot be penetrated.

Maybe they repeat themselves because A] I might at some point bow to their teacher and their teacher's teacher and their teacher's teacher's teacher, and on down the line, so in some way I am bowing to them? Or, B] they rail against the deprivation in their art education to have me astonished, saddened and consoling? Maybe since my responses don't offer what they sought, they need to start from scratch with every meet up. That may be where the problem starts.

But maybe not. On first meeting, does anyone just talk art, and forget the quotes, name dropping and dogma?
I'm bracing myself for another encounter this afternoon. I'll report back if they don't do it again.
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Re: Informal survey

Post by Andre Jute » Sat Aug 31, 2019 10:54 pm

Rebecca, are you obviously more successful than the people who wield their teacher like a shield? I ask because abrasive defensiveness is a case every successful writer is familiar with, especially novelists, who practice probably the most exclusionary of the literary arts.

Matthew's Oscar Wilde quote caused me to burst out laughing: it is so true.
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Re: Informal survey

Post by Rebecca » Sun Sep 01, 2019 12:58 am

Andre Jute wrote:
Sat Aug 31, 2019 10:54 pm
Rebecca, are you obviously more successful than the people who wield their teacher like a shield?...
Not at all. And I'm starting from scratch here. I'm a total stranger to everyone. It happened up north, too.
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Re: Informal survey

Post by Rebecca » Sun Sep 01, 2019 5:44 pm

I attended a "gathering" yesterday. The venue attracts local artists during the heat of summer to work and socialize. I ended up being the only one there. Anyway, a visitor from out of town walked in and sat down with the attendant on the other side of the room. The subject immediately turned to her teacher -- a brilliant artist -- and how hard it was to do abstract art so she turned to a "different" kind of art that was indescribable. In fairness to this visitor, she appeared to be in the middle of her training, so she was not away from the teacher's influence, like the artists I tend to talk with.

The conversation kept going back to the teacher/studio leader, and it occurred to me that the student might be scouting for her. Scouting for approval? Scouting for a fit in society? I don't know.

Then I wondered, if this is the topic when they are students, perhaps the pattern is set in place for all future exchanges?
I never had these conversations when I was a student, so maybe our experiences were set differently from the start. Maybe that's the problem.
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Re: Informal survey

Post by Andre Jute » Sun Sep 01, 2019 8:02 pm

So who's your teacher then, Rebecca? Or are you not mentioning him because everyone else's teacher is so much more important?

Heh-heh!
Rebecca wrote:
Sun Sep 01, 2019 5:44 pm
Then I wondered, if this is the topic when they are students, perhaps the pattern is set in place for all future exchanges?
I never had these conversations when I was a student, so maybe our experiences were set differently from the start. Maybe that's the problem.
It's starting to look like a security blanket. That doesn't surprise me at all. You find it in the junior levels of all the arts. (I left the theatre both as a writer and a producer/director because I could no longer stomach the whining of the actors below only the thinnest top crust.)

You have to start from where you've arrived. If you need a community, or merely feel you should contribute something, I'd seriously suggest you delete this thread because sooner or later someone in your local community will find it, and it is more than enough evidence to exclude you in these binary times when people seem to believe it is a god-given right never to hear any criticism. (You may be able to do it by just deleting the first post, taking the rest with it, or Matthew as the operator of the forum will be able to remove the thread.)
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Re: Informal survey

Post by mdmattin » Mon Sep 02, 2019 1:31 pm

Andre Jute wrote:
Sun Sep 01, 2019 8:02 pm
sooner or later someone in your local community will find it, and it is more than enough evidence to exclude you
Or they might be more like "Note to self - don't blather on to Rebecca about how my sensei can trace their lineage back to Ogg at L'Atelier Lascaux!"

What I've noticed lately is that when artists meet up for the first time, they whip out their phones to show off their pocket art galleries. I recently attended a post-show opening meal with some artists I hadn't met before, and we all got out out our phones and passed them around. This is clearly more interesting and direct than listening to someone's pedagogical pedigree, but it introduced an asynchronous quality to the conversation. At any given moment everyone would be looking at a different phone and commenting to its owner, who was meanwhile looking at someone else's phone and commenting to them.

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Re: Informal survey

Post by Rebecca » Mon Sep 02, 2019 4:29 pm

mdmattin wrote:
Mon Sep 02, 2019 1:31 pm
Or they might be more like "Note to self - don't blather on to Rebecca about how my sensei can trace their lineage back to Ogg at L'Atelier Lascaux!"

What I've noticed lately is that when artists meet up for the first time, they whip out their phones to show off their pocket art galleries. I recently attended a post-show opening meal with some artists I hadn't met before, and we all got out out our phones and passed them around. This is clearly more interesting and direct than listening to someone's pedagogical pedigree, but it introduced an asynchronous quality to the conversation. At any given moment everyone would be looking at a different phone and commenting to its owner, who was meanwhile looking at someone else's phone and commenting to them.
I'd take the mini art tour over mind numbing recitations of bad experiences and teacher dogma anytime. It could lead to a real conversation, once the phone trade is over.
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Re: Informal survey

Post by Andre Jute » Mon Sep 02, 2019 9:55 pm

mdmattin wrote:
Mon Sep 02, 2019 1:31 pm
Andre Jute wrote:
Sun Sep 01, 2019 8:02 pm
sooner or later someone in your local community will find it, and it is more than enough evidence to exclude you
Or they might be more like "Note to self - don't blather on to Rebecca about how my sensei can trace their lineage back to Ogg at L'Atelier Lascaux!"
Ogg was ceiling painter in my ancestor Odin's hall...
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Re: Informal survey

Post by snippety » Mon Sep 23, 2019 5:27 am

Thanks for your always interesting posts. I just had a wonderful day catching up with artist friends and meeting some new ones - in a small class - yes it was a learning environment. we nattered about - HA - cost of things, like computer programs and software issues. Ive had my head in a bubble of colour and learning more about paint pigments so i was keen to talk about that. As for teachers - i think im always learning, and IM remiss for not tapping into someone elses knowledge and skills. I studied art a long time ago and often think of the things that werent taught. the up side is that things were a bit more 'radical' and free form back then. Also there is SO much more information now, that my knowledge of art practice and art history has exploded.

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