Yesterday I had a conversation with a student who was quite unhappy with his grade on the Progress Report. The problem, I explained, was that he’d not even tried to experiment, and that if there’s been one constant this semester, it’s been my insistence that students experiment, that you try new approaches to your art, that succeed or fail, you at least try to do things you’d never attempted before. I’ve spoon fed every class link after link leading to wonderful examples of artistic experimentation and high-quality step by step tutorials to help students discover their own creative zone. As for myself, I was determined to continue my own experimentation in this quixotic quest to finally rid the Mac Lab of the dreaded flatliners.
Last June I wrote, “Every year there’s been measurable progress but last year really was amazing. The only constant is the flatliners: those students who begin to learn then get lazy and coast, repeating the same lame excuses for digital art or 3D design the rest of the year. It’s the flatliners I’m going after this year.” This year I’ve gone on my ethical rants, tried to prod your personal perspective, and challenged you to live more responsibly but thieves and vandals still haunt the Mac Lab, many portfolios reflect little to no real creative progress, and I’m still pulling plastic bottles out of the trash cans at the end of the day. Moral, ethical, and creative flatliners! Of course, on the flip side is the unprecedented creative explosion in here. As Charles Dickens might have written (had he been a teacher), “They were the best of students, they were the worst of students…” But in our Tale of Two Classrooms, there’s still time for those in the latter group to change their ways, to join in on the creative fun, and to succeed.
Everyone, I’d like you to consider a snake for a moment. Not the one that accompanies this post but a living, breathing, slithering snake. Reflexively, many respond with either fear or loathing but I doubt if Chelsea B’s illustration conjours either emotion. Hers is a beautiful experiment in shape and color. What I’d like you to consider is a living snake’s POV. Think about how it sees the world as it moves through its day from point A to point B. Quite a different perspective, eh? Now look at your own work again but this time with a more critical eye. Really look. Have you honestly and truly tried different types of experimentation? Have you pushed your skills as far as you’re able? Are there still techniques you’d like to learn and make your own? There’s still time to finish strong, and that’s a challenge I’m throwing out to all of my Dickensonian students.