What’s the Point?

A word on the Essential Nature of Arts Education by Daley Pedersen

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Seeing yourself improve is always awesome. However, to improve, you have to practice. You have to work for it. Unless you’re a super genius or you reach nirvana, you’re not going to get better at anything doing nothing. This is one of the reasons why it’s so tough to be an artist.

When you commit to your art, you aren’t going to see an immediate change. You’re not going to wake up and suddenly know exactly how to draw. You have to slave away for hours first, and then maybe in a month you’ll sit back and think, oh, I did that. I drew those hands better eventually.

But this is incredibly frustrating. Not only are you putting hours of work into something, you also aren’t going to see any significant payoff for quite a while.  So why do it?

That’s the big question.

Don’t worry, there’s an answer: you have to think ahead. You have to be prepared to go slow and steady. It’s so easy to just put down the paintbrush and say you’re giving it up, you’re going to work at (insert subpar job here)  and be content. No. No, you won’t be. It’s so easy. That’s exactly why you can’t do it.

It’s also easy to fall victim to The Budget. This has been said a thousand times and will be again: “we can’t afford art.” That’s a valid point—sometimes hard decisions have to be made when considering school funds. But, fundamentally, it’s like saying “we can’t afford math” or “we can’t afford science.” Art is just as integral a part of education as Algebra and Biology.

Most people don’t see it this way, and it’s up to us advocates for the arts to change that. We have to get the message out in order to change people’s minds about art. But change in perspective isn’t going to happen overnight; we have to keep pushing this point until, one day, it finally sinks in. And that day will be the day that art is fully incorporated in every school. Until then, we have to keep trying. We have to keep spreading the word and spreading the knowledge as loud as we can.

This is going to take a long time. (Maybe) longer than learning how to draw from scratch. But that doesn’t mean we can give up. Are we going to be content with letting The Budget win? Are we going to be content not letting kids explore their artistic sides as well as their logical ones? Are we going to be content with leaving out an essential part of students’ education?

No. No, we won’t be.


3 thoughts on “What’s the Point?

  1. wonderful message and so good to hear. sometimes we forget in a world were everything is quick and results are expected right away. we can forget that practice is the way to achieve, and enjoying the process. i can say that working on an image over and over gives a deeper understanding of the thing you are drawing. you can see things you missed the first few times. drawing like that gives your brain an exercise in observation and expectation. seeing in a new way.


    1. I totally agree! And I think its so critical to read a student’s perspective on this process. It is the total learning experience: exploration, reflection, revising, hypothesizing, etc.


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