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Choisya
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Re: Interpreting poetry

I was only trying to make the point that we are all critics to a greater or lesser degree - we are not all nuclear scientists!:smileysurprised:




Everyman wrote:
True. And nuclear scientists come from within the general population who have taken science classes in school, but I like to think they have a bit more expertise in designing nuclear power plants than I do.


Choisya wrote:
Yes, of course but they come from within the general reading population nvertheless.



Everyman wrote:
Critics are only readers/viewers who also write

One would like to think that critics have spent a bit more time studying critical theories and styles than the average reader.








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Choisya
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Re: Reading 'methods'

[ Edited ]
I cannot say that I notice much difference between BNU & BNBC in this regard - indeed, longer reading sessions have been allocated for some books read here. I would also doubt that folks here are reading Cliff or other Notes overmuch. And I find extensive quotes are used here - in the Literature by Women and Epics sessions, for instance, both the Reader-Moderators and readers have used many quotes to back up their reading. Similarly, references to critics or biographers are often very specific - as with Hermione Lee's excellent Wharton biography in the current discussion of The Buccaneers, for instance. There is also extensive use of Links to provide background material and to make the reading sessions 'come alive'. I think the Reader-Moderators and their readers deserve commendation on their 'studious' approach, considering that they are no longer being helped by professional Moderators. The 'I think' sort of analysis seems to occur more frequently in the Author led sessions, where folks seem to be more afraid of any in depth analysis lest it upset the author or their attendant fans.

As for reading 'hastily' - we all read at different speeds and 'take in' information at differently too. What seems like 'skimming' to one person could be in depth reading for another. Some folks read a book fairly quickly the first time around and then re-read more slowly, others only read it once. Some books are more 'dippable' than others. Professor Bob Fanuzzi, for instance, recommended readers of Moby Dick to skip some chapters and then come back to them. I have read War and Peace several times but have never dwelt on the battle scenes. In reading Hardy, I dwell on the descriptive passages and not on the dialogue. We all approach a book differently. Sometimes too, it can depend on our circumstances. I would doubt that the mother of young children can immerse herself as much in a book as can a retiree with time on their hands.




Everyman wrote:


Prof wrote:
...I think books are often read hastily, and judgments pronounced on them just as hastily.

I agree completely. And often they aren't read at all, but skimmed, or "read" by reading the Cliff Notes and a few critics.

In the old BNU, where there was more focus on study and less just on loose discussion, I was a strong advocate (in the face of considerable opposition) for providing specific quotes or references for points made, rather than just the general "I think..." sort of "analysis." But that no longer seems to be a viable general expectation here.



Message Edited by Choisya on 07-12-2007 04:10 AM
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Choisya
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Re: 'Spats'

[ Edited ]
As in life, sometimes 'spats' can indelibly sour our experience. Over the past 4 years I have been on these boards, I have had more upsetting experiences and 'hurts' here than anywhere else in my life. I remain here not because of the 'supportive community' but because I enjoy discussing books and ideas and because I am an insomniac and this is a quiet thing to do in the middle of the night (other than reading, of course). Or perhaps I am a masochist.





Everyman wrote:


Choisya wrote:
(However, I have not found BNU or B&N a supportive community - on the contrary, I find it a harsh and difficult environment.)

I'm sorry you feel that way. There are occasional spats, of course, but in general I find it a quite friendly and upbeat place.



Message Edited by Choisya on 07-12-2007 04:12 AM
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pmcoulter
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Re: Discussion Week 7: Poetry

Ilana,

A while back, in the old format, B&N had a course on Emily Dickinson. It helped/made me appreciate her poetry much more even though I can't say I particularly liked her as a person after reading her biography. I found everyone's contributions to the discussion were helpful, too. It was a good course.

Reading Jane Langton's Emily Dickinson Is Dead (while a bit predictable as a mystery) actually helped me like her a bit.


more.

IlanaSimons wrote:


Librarian wrote:
My favorite poets are Emily Dickinson ( I visited her house in Amherst, Massachusetts) and Walt Whitman.



For a long time, I've been trying to get myself to love Emily. Would you mind showing us some poems you love and why?


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pmcoulter
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Re: 'Spats'

Choisya.

Over the past four years, I have read many of your posts and enjoyed them. I am sorry you have experienced hurt. I do not always agree with you, but you stimulate my thinking, which I appreciate, and I do not always agree with myself two days running. But I do think.

Thanks for the stimulus.




Choisya wrote:
As in life, sometimes 'spats' can indelibly sour our experience. Over the past 4 years I have been on these boards, I have had more upsetting experiences and 'hurts' here than anywhere else in my life. I remain here not because of the 'supportive community' but because I enjoy discussing books and ideas and because I am an insomniac and this is a quiet thing to do in the middle of the night (other than reading, of course). Or perhaps I am a masochist.





Everyman wrote:


Choisya wrote:
(However, I have not found BNU or B&N a supportive community - on the contrary, I find it a harsh and difficult environment.)

I'm sorry you feel that way. There are occasional spats, of course, but in general I find it a quite friendly and upbeat place.



Message Edited by Choisya on 07-12-2007 04:12 AM


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Choisya
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Re: 'Spats'

[ Edited ]
Thankyou. I do not at all mind being disagreed with and, coming from a different culture, I expect it. It is all grist to the mill of life.



pmcoulter wrote:
Choisya.

Over the past four years, I have read many of your posts and enjoyed them. I am sorry you have experienced hurt. I do not always agree with you, but you stimulate my thinking, which I appreciate, and I do not always agree with myself two days running. But I do think.

Thanks for the stimulus.




Choisya wrote:
As in life, sometimes 'spats' can indelibly sour our experience. Over the past 4 years I have been on these boards, I have had more upsetting experiences and 'hurts' here than anywhere else in my life. I remain here not because of the 'supportive community' but because I enjoy discussing books and ideas and because I am an insomniac and this is a quiet thing to do in the middle of the night (other than reading, of course). Or perhaps I am a masochist.





Everyman wrote:


Choisya wrote:
(However, I have not found BNU or B&N a supportive community - on the contrary, I find it a harsh and difficult environment.)

I'm sorry you feel that way. There are occasional spats, of course, but in general I find it a quite friendly and upbeat place.



Message Edited by Choisya on 07-12-2007 04:12 AM






Message Edited by Choisya on 07-12-2007 07:25 AM
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IlanaSimons
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Re: Discussion Week 7: Poetry

This is a good point and relates back to a discussion we had last week, about whether or not knowing an author's biography changes your appreciation of the work. I think it often does. I can imagine that knowing more about her life could help catalyze my appreciation of Emily.



pmcoulter wrote:
Ilana,

A while back, in the old format, B&N had a course on Emily Dickinson. It helped/made me appreciate her poetry much more even though I can't say I particularly liked her as a person after reading her biography. I found everyone's contributions to the discussion were helpful, too. It was a good course.

Reading Jane Langton's Emily Dickinson Is Dead (while a bit predictable as a mystery) actually helped me like her a bit.


more.

IlanaSimons wrote:


Librarian wrote:
My favorite poets are Emily Dickinson ( I visited her house in Amherst, Massachusetts) and Walt Whitman.



For a long time, I've been trying to get myself to love Emily. Would you mind showing us some poems you love and why?








Ilana
Check out my book, here and visit my website, here.


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Criticism

Yes, critics sometimes read hastily, too, and erroneous critical statements can influence generations of students!


Everyman wrote:

I agree completely. And often they aren't read at all, but skimmed, or "read" by reading the Cliff Notes and a few critics.

Prof wrote:

I think books are often read hastily, and judgments pronounced on them just as hastily.

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Kit-Kat
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Re: Criticism

I read this thread with interest, and even though I'm coming a little late to the game, I hope I can add something. One of the things I learned in studying literature is that sometimes asking what a book "means" or what an author is trying to say is to ask the wrong question. Novels (good ones, anyway) aren't fables, with neat and tidy morals or "take home messages." The purpose of criticism is more than just asking whether a book is "good" or whether the reader likes it or what it means or how I can apply it to my daily life. It's a process of looking very closely at a work, analyzing the language, the characters, the plot, the setting, etc., and seeing how these parts work together. Criticism is valid to the extent it is based on the evidence--that is, the work itself. History, biography, critical theory, etc., can be helpful because they help us understand the work better. All interpretations are not equally valid, but a work may have multiple interpretations, some of which were not conceived of or intended by the author. He may have said things that he was not aware of saying. The language or the plot or whatever may reveal how the author saw the world around her. He may have had a goal in writing the novel, but may have accomplished more or other than what he intended. She may have written a traditional plot, but subtly undercut it in other ways.

In other words, criticism implies critical reading-not critical in the sense of trying to tear something down, but in the sense of taking something apart to gain a better understanding of the whole.
----------
"And so, from too much reading and too little sleep, his brains dried up and he lost his wits." Cervantes, *Don Quixote*
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IlanaSimons
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Re: Criticism



Kit-Kat wrote:
In other words, criticism implies critical reading-not critical in the sense of trying to tear something down, but in the sense of taking something apart to gain a better understanding of the whole.




Well said. Critical does seem like the wrong word. Maybe the correct word is more like an "exploratory" or "discovery" reading of a work.



Ilana
Check out my book, here and visit my website, here.


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KathyS
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Re: Criticism

Kit-Kat wrote: In other words, criticism implies critical reading-not critical in the sense of trying to tear something down, but in the sense of taking something apart to gain a better understanding of the whole.
____________________________
Thank you for joining in this discussion, Kit-Kat! Your statements are all true, as I have seen these author led discussions develop over the years. They can also develop their own critical eye towards their own work.
I look forward to hearing more from you.

Kathy S.
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Choisya
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Re: Criticism

I entirely agree - especially with your last sentence.




Kit-Kat wrote:
I read this thread with interest, and even though I'm coming a little late to the game, I hope I can add something. One of the things I learned in studying literature is that sometimes asking what a book "means" or what an author is trying to say is to ask the wrong question. Novels (good ones, anyway) aren't fables, with neat and tidy morals or "take home messages." The purpose of criticism is more than just asking whether a book is "good" or whether the reader likes it or what it means or how I can apply it to my daily life. It's a process of looking very closely at a work, analyzing the language, the characters, the plot, the setting, etc., and seeing how these parts work together. Criticism is valid to the extent it is based on the evidence--that is, the work itself. History, biography, critical theory, etc., can be helpful because they help us understand the work better. All interpretations are not equally valid, but a work may have multiple interpretations, some of which were not conceived of or intended by the author. He may have said things that he was not aware of saying. The language or the plot or whatever may reveal how the author saw the world around her. He may have had a goal in writing the novel, but may have accomplished more or other than what he intended. She may have written a traditional plot, but subtly undercut it in other ways.

In other words, criticism implies critical reading-not critical in the sense of trying to tear something down, but in the sense of taking something apart to gain a better understanding of the whole.


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Choisya
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Re: Criticism

Yes, the word criticism is often misunderstood when it is related to literature. It is worth remembering the dictionary meansing criticism in this regard:-

1




IlanaSimons wrote:


Kit-Kat wrote:
In other words, criticism implies critical reading-not critical in the sense of trying to tear something down, but in the sense of taking something apart to gain a better understanding of the whole.




Well said. Critical does seem like the wrong word. Maybe the correct word is more like an "exploratory" or "discovery" reading of a work.


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Choisya
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Re: Criticism

Yes, the word criticism is often misunderstood when it is related to literature. It is worth remembering the secondary dictionary definition of criticism in this regard:-

1a finding fault; censure
1b A statement or remark expressing this
2a the work of a critic
2b an article, essay etc. expressing or containing an analytical evaluation of something

(From the Oxford Encyclopaedic English Dictionary.)





IlanaSimons wrote:


Kit-Kat wrote:
In other words, criticism implies critical reading-not critical in the sense of trying to tear something down, but in the sense of taking something apart to gain a better understanding of the whole.




Well said. Critical does seem like the wrong word. Maybe the correct word is more like an "exploratory" or "discovery" reading of a work.


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Choisya
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Re: Interpreting poetry

I was reading this post again today KathyS and wondered what point there could be in taking pieces of art apart piece by piece and subjecting them to such intense analysis. The great painters, musicians, writers and poets were not subjected to such scrutiny during their creative periods. Painters and musicians often learn their craft through formal tuition but many do not and no classic writers or poets did, to the best of my knowledge. Although with the new 'creative writing' classes maybe a newer breed of writers and poets will come through this way. I feel that creative genius will 'out' itself and I have seen a number of examples of that in my own family and extended family. A relative of mine who is a well known violinist gives master classes on the violin and says that he can only improve those who already have talent, for instance. Authors I have known (and I have known a number) write either from considerable knowledge - such as a lifetime's political or historical research - or novels or poetry from deep within their (unanalysed) psyches and hearts.

From reading Virginia Woolf's 'Bloomsbury' essays and similar essays by writers, I can see the value of a group of literary people sitting around and discussing their work and ideas but to have it deeply analysed - 'taken apart, piece by piece' - would seem to me to invite nervous breakdowns rather than better work. Some authors are deeply secretive about their work and do not share it with anyone, keeping it under lock and key until publication. I believe Emily Dickinson, for instance, was very reclusive and only a few of her 2000+ poems were published during her lifetime. She wrote on scraps of paper, grocery lists, backs of recipes etc etc and never prepared her work for publication, letting her talent 'out' itself.

I underwent several years of intensive psychotherapy for clinical depression in my 30s and knew others who did so and some who underwent Freudian psycho-analysis. I therefore know that analysis can be painful and 'is not a fun place to be sitting'. It can also do as much harm as good and drives some 'over the edge', particularly in the hands of inexperienced practitioners.





KathyS wrote:
Choisya, You see and read in a totally different dimension from the way I do. I would never ask you to take my poem apart, here and now, on this board. That application is for you to do, if or when you want to, in the privacy of your own home. I'll try to explain this. I don't want to hear your personal, internal dialogue. Just because I give mine, doesn't mean I'm going to ask you to do it, because you've already told me you can't. I respect your feelings and your opinions. I wanted to show you, and everyone, that you can introduce something as simple as my poem, and show that it can apply to anyone, at any time. It's what I tried to explain in my previous post.

I can read my own words and *see into it* one thing, you can read it and *see into it* one thing, or anyone of these people on these boards can read it and *see into* whatever they want. My point is, the author, and the author, alone, is the only one that, when written, knows for sure what it means....even if there are underlying hidden meanings, which *only* someone with an analytical mind, or background can see, it still ultimately *belongs*, (as with any author) to the author themselves. Belonging only means it was an internal feeling at one time, for that one person. It doesn't mean it can't be shared, sold, or given away to the masses. That's the bottom line with any author, once it's put out there, it can become anyones internal property, but will always stay within the heart of the writer, as theirs.

There are all kinds of citics, and all ways to critique something. I think I mentioned this before. I've sat and witnessed my own peices of art taken apart, piece by piece. It's not a fun place to be sitting, but if I hadn't have had this done, I would not have learned what it is the instructor was trying to get across to me and all of us. I've been set up in front of my peers, and gotten their opinions. But it was all done with kindness, only discussing the technical points which had to be seen by everyone in the room. As artists, this is how we each learn from each other.

As far as a book discussion, the art in this is, you take characters apart, the motives behind them, within the places in which these characters are set. How do they think, live and breath within these settings? And you apply all of this to your own life. This may be the difficult part for you, because you have to ultimately apply what they are feeling, to your own feelings. And you have to do it in writing, in front of everyone. You have to apply their actions to your own. You have to get into their heads and apply their thinking and motives. These discussions have nothing to do with the author's writing styles. They are not dead authors' books we discuss, so it wouldn't be, and it can't be, a taking apart of who the author is. But you can ask them why they wrote the things they wrote. their motives behind their thinking and feelings. You can ask them about some of their personal feelings, as they wrote, if they are willing to share them with you, but respect is always given to them, and you always ask first.

If I'm invited to dinner to a friend's house, I don't tell them their food is lousy or it's too salty, or lacks something, or give my opinion if it is hurtful....because it just isn't done. And author's have critics, and people who review them constantly. If I don't like a book, I try not to get on a discussion, unless it's to understand it more completely, so I can apply whatever it is I couldn't understand, to my own thoughts about it. But I never go after an author for writing the words they've written. It becomes a personal attack on them. It's not objective then. You are used to talking about books that have no author present. That's the difference between us, I'm used to having a friend sitting beside me when I'm talking about their book. It's not any different than having a friend sit beside me and talk about every known topic we can dream up.

These boards should never become a grounds to attack, or badger or rip another *person* apart. Opinions can differ, and they do all the time, which makes for an interesting and exciting discussion. If we all agreed, nothing would be learned from it. I would never attack someones differences of opinion, I only try to make mine as clear as humanly possible, to create a better understand between us, and hopefully show that we *are* all different in the way we think and view things.

Kathy S.


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IlanaSimons
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Re: Interpreting words

So the thing that you inspired me to do, actually, was have a little more fun in my painting. I did a series of writers-on-paper-plates. I.e.: "We love these guys. Eat off of them." I put them on my website.
http://webspace.newschool.edu/~simonsi/Portraits.html
scroll to the very bottom, and click on each plate for a larger view.
They kind of suck but they're kind of fun.
this is what I've been doing all day.....




Choisya wrote:
IlanaSimons wrote:
B/c Choisya encouraged my own work, I took some to galleries, and I have two shows scheduled now (thanks, c).

I didn't know that Ilana. Thanks for mentioning it.





Ilana
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Choisya
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Re: Interpreting plates

[ Edited ]
What a great idea - now do we eat off the plate because we like or dislike the author?? I love the way VW is enticing us with her fingers. I would pick GBS as a 'like', although his beard might tickle my chin:smileyhappy:. They might sell well if they were printed on china plates for tourist centres.

GBS' home is just up the road from me at Ayot St Lawrence - I can see that GBS plate in their souvenir shop. Members of the Shaw Society perform his plays there each summer - I love his revolving summer house and will have one copied from it when I am rich!

http://www.touruk.co.uk/houses/househertfordshire_shawscorner.htm





IlanaSimons wrote:
So the thing that you inspired me to do, actually, was have a little more fun in my painting. I did a series of writers-on-paper-plates. I.e.: "We love these guys. Eat off of them." I put them on my website.
http://webspace.newschool.edu/~simonsi/Portraits.html
scroll to the very bottom, and click on each plate for a larger view.
They kind of suck but they're kind of fun.
this is what I've been doing all day.....

Message Edited by Choisya on 07-12-2007 06:54 PM
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KathyS
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An Essay - Taking Art Apart

[ Edited ]
Choisya, this is going to be one of the longest explainations of what my view of the world in art was like. I hope it explains what "taking art apart" means. And this is strictly within the classroom setting.

There are many, many elements that go into the "making" of art. You have to make it/learn it, before you can take it apart. The art of making art, is not, or doesn't have to be an inbred creative process. And that's what I'm looking at right here, not the person born with talents I'll never have. There are many degrees of talent. Art can come from as totally technical function. I could teach anyone these functions. Like leaning to play the piano. You learn the notes, the scales, the hand positions, and the million and one things that can be leaned are enormous. Music theory and composing is a world within a world. And it's the same way with painting a picture, or sculpting, drawing or throwing pots on a wheel.

When I talked about the kids I had in my class, they didn't know the first thing about any of this. I had to teach them the language of art in small doses. Five year olds see it one way, and eleven year old see it another way. Of course I'm not going to take anything they made or did apart. At that age you can't do anything that might discourage them, they were only little elementary children, and they needed all the encouragement then could get. It's not as much about making art, as it was in learning skills they had never learned before, and seeing visions that are only in their minds, and imaginations. I only tried to guide their progress, and make it as much fun as I could. Making art is supposed to be fun, and for the most part the joy is enormous. Once the skills are met and learned, but all of that would come later for these kids.

Most of these college age students, which I was a part of, wanted to go into it professionally. On my second go round at college, I was a housewife with two kids. who had the desire to learn everything and anything about art, but it wasn't practical for me to think about it as a career at that time. I had a career, and art was just a hobby I desired.

In the college setting, you have to, it's mandatory, to have your work critiqued. Like I'd said, it's a tuff world out there, and to make it you have to have a tuff skin. If you cannot handle having your picture technically looked at, the chances are you won't learn the correct ways of application. I'm not saying that there aren't artists who break the rules of painting, or any art form, it's done all the time, I do it, because it's part of creativity, but I first had to learn the methods of the skill, before I could break them effectively. And you have to understand, these critiques are not meant to destroy you, or pull you apart, they are only to take the elements apart on your submitted work.

We were graded on all of these things which make up the words called, submitted art work. Color, lines, shadows, application, dimensions, balance, perspectives, textures, the lists goes on. A true artists can see all of these in a single painting, whether yours or someone else's. these elements don't enter your head, until it's introduced. Your eye is trained as well as your hand, your arms, your head, and yes, your heart should go into it to, whether you're conscious of it or not. The elements of drawing alone is infinite. It's not just a matter of taking a number two pencil and sliding it across the paper. The tools and techniques of every line has a definite purpose. What makes a drawing or a painting jump out at you? Or what makes it recede into the paper or canvas? What makes it speak to you? The warmth, the coldness, the excitement, the sadness. What do we see?

A finished drawing, with a black lead pencil can give a visual of looking at glass, paper, rocks, wood.....and there are many kinds of pencils used for all of these drawings......and color can do the same thing, many brushes, or strokes, and colors, paper, canvasses, surfaces. But if you haven't learned these processes and techniques of applicaton, you fail in seeing the visual analysis. Does any of this make sense? You're trained to see.

Watercolors, oils, acrylics, pigments....I've used everything imaginable to paint a picture....even roof coating! I've used sand, mason stains, you name it, and I've played with it....I've burned surfaces for textural flavor. I've dropped balloons of paint on cement coated canvasses, from a six foot ladder during a thunderstorm....talk about choreographed! And talk about dramatic! LOL Ooohs, and aahs....but what a mess! I received critiques and grades on everything I did. It's a long process.

I can describe every one of those technical things to you, even in more detail, but the point is, as an artist who painted pictures, my pictures were set up in front of a classroom full of students, and the instructor's job/responsibility was, to point to every one of the technical elements that should show up on that painting. If you can't stand to have this done, then you don't have any business in the art world....You have to look at all of those elements I described, when I wrote them out to all of you in the philosophy section. These are, and can be learned. But what makes it *good* has to come from within.

Yes, at one time an instructor did bring me to tears. I submitted a picture in a design class, which was a three part final. She took one look at it and handed it right back to me, telling me it wasn't me! I just looked at her and said, what do you mean?....how does she know who I am, that this piece wasn't me! You see, it was to be a self portrait. Only, it was a collage I had to start out with, then duplicate it in a water based paint, then abstract it. Her words cut into me, and stymied me, I had to leave the classroom because I didn't want to cry in front of the instructor and everyone. I went home and thought about it. Yes, I started to understand the shell that has to go up, to seemingly negative words.....I thought about who I was, at that moment. Not who I was last year, or who I wanted to be, but now. I completed an entirely different work of art. I took it in, and my final grade was an A.

So, in the end, the instructor knew that I had a potential I never recognized in myself, but when you get seemingly negative feedback, it can certainly touch you deeply. But I had to focus on what this instructor wanted me to see. Nothing personal. I had to abstract myself, literally from those negative feelings. And feel the moment. But the more you get of the positive *criticism*, and constructive feedback about your work, which is what happens during critiques, the more you learn about the process of making art; and the more you understand, the tougher you get. This is what I mean by *taking art apart*. You, in the end, are taken on a journey, whether you realize it or not. You can be changed and transformed, and shown visions you never thought would ever exist in a million years. It's a good thing!

Kathy S.
P.S. Ilana could probably have said this in three sentences!

Message Edited by KathyS on 07-12-2007 06:18 PM
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Choisya
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Re: An Essay - Taking People Apart

I still don't agree with the method KathyS and repeat that great artists have not been subjected to this torture. A close friend of mine, age 75, has just completed a degree in Fine Art, passing with Honours and selling every piece of her student work to galleries and she was not subjected to any of the indignities you describe. I do not agree with any form of teaching that can reduce a student to tears or bring them close to a nervous breakdown and I would not let any child of mine attend such a class, whatever its benefits. I am very very critical of pseudo psychological techniques in teaching, 'counselling' or in anything else. Such teaching plays with fire IMO and I am speaking as someone who has seen bad 'therapy' drive people into madness and suicide.

(PS: My friend and I attended a College of Art full time for a couple of years so I am not entirely ignorant of the techniques of painting and other related subjects, although I specialised in lace and fabric design.)




KathyS wrote:
Choisya, this is going to be one of the longest explainations of what my view of the world in art was like. I hope it explains what "taking art apart" means. And this is strictly within the classroom setting.

There are many, many elements that go into the "making" of art. You have to make it/learn it, before you can take it apart. The art of making art, is not, or doesn't have to be an inbred creative process. And that's what I'm looking at right here, not the person born with talents I'll never have. There are many degrees of talent. Art can come from as totally technical function. I could teach anyone these functions. Like leaning to play the piano. You learn the notes, the scales, the hand positions, and the million and one things that can be leaned are enormous. Music theory and composing is a world within a world. And it's the same way with painting a picture, or sculpting, drawing or throwing pots on a wheel.

When I talked about the kids I had in my class, they didn't know the first thing about any of this. I had to teach them the language of art in small doses. Five year olds see it one way, and eleven year old see it another way. Of course I'm not going to take anything they made or did apart. At that age you can't do anything that might discourage them, they were only little elementary children, and they needed all the encouragement then could get. It's not as much about making art, as it was in learning skills they had never learned before, and seeing visions that are only in their minds, and imaginations. I only tried to guide their progress, and make it as much fun as I could. Making art is supposed to be fun, and for the most part the joy is enormous. Once the skills are met and learned, but all of that would come later for these kids.

Most of these college age students, which I was a part of, wanted to go into it professionally. On my second go round at college, I was a housewife with two kids. who had the desire to learn everything and anything about art, but it wasn't practical for me to think about it as a career at that time. I had a career, and art was just a hobby I desired.

In the college setting, you have to, it's mandatory, to have your work critiqued. Like I'd said, it's a tuff world out there, and to make it you have to have a tuff skin. If you cannot handle having your picture technically looked at, the chances are you won't learn the correct ways of application. I'm not saying that there aren't artists who break the rules of painting, or any art form, it's done all the time, I do it, because it's part of creativity, but I first had to learn the methods of the skill, before I could break them effectively. And you have to understand, these critiques are not meant to destroy you, or pull you apart, they are only to take the elements apart on your submitted work.

We were graded on all of these things which make up the words called, submitted art work. Color, lines, shadows, application, dimensions, balance, perspectives, textures, the lists goes on. A true artists can see all of these in a single painting, whether yours or someone else's. these elements don't enter your head, until it's introduced. Your eye is trained as well as your hand, your arms, your head, and yes, your heart should go into it to, whether you're conscious of it or not. The elements of drawing alone is infinite. It's not just a matter of taking a number two pencil and sliding it across the paper. The tools and techniques of every line has a definite purpose. What makes a drawing or a painting jump out at you? Or what makes it recede into the paper or canvas? What makes it speak to you? The warmth, the coldness, the excitement, the sadness. What do we see?

A finished drawing, with a black lead pencil can give a visual of looking at glass, paper, rocks, wood.....and there are many kinds of pencils used for all of these drawings......and color can do the same thing, many brushes, or strokes, and colors, paper, canvasses, surfaces. But if you haven't learned these processes and techniques of applicaton, you fail in seeing the visual analysis. Does any of this make sense? You're trained to see.

Watercolors, oils, acrylics, pigments....I've used everything imaginable to paint a picture....even roof coating! I've used sand, mason stains, you name it, and I've played with it....I've burned surfaces for textural flavor. I've dropped balloons of paint on cement coated canvasses, from a six foot ladder during a thunderstorm....talk about choreographed! And talk about dramatic! LOL Ooohs, and aahs....but what a mess! I received critiques and grades on everything I did. It's a long process.

I can describe every one of those technical things to you, even in more detail, but the point is, as an artist who painted pictures, my pictures were set up in front of a classroom full of students, and the instructor's job/responsibility was, to point to every one of the technical elements that should show up on that painting. If you can't stand to have this done, then you don't have any business in the art world....You have to look at all of those elements I described, when I wrote them out to all of you in the philosophy section. These are, and can be learned. But what makes it *good* has to come from within.

Yes, at one time an instructor did bring me to tears. I submitted a picture in a design class, which was a three part final. She took one look at it and handed it right back to me, telling me it wasn't me! I just looked at her and said, what do you mean?....how does she know who I am, that this piece wasn't me! You see, it was to be a self portrait. Only, it was a collage I had to start out with, then duplicate it in a water based paint, then abstract it. Her words cut into me, and stymied me, I had to leave the classroom because I didn't want to cry in front of the instructor and everyone. I went home and thought about it. Yes, I started to understand the shell that has to go up, to seemingly negative words.....I thought about who I was, at that moment. Not who I was last year, or who I wanted to be, but now. I completed an entirely different work of art. I took it in, and my final grade was an A.

So, in the end, the instructor knew that I had a potential I never recognized in myself, but when you get seemingly negative feedback, it can certainly touch you deeply. But I had to focus on what this instructor wanted me to see. Nothing personal. I had to abstract myself, literally from those negative feelings. And feel the moment. But the more you get of the positive *criticism*, and constructive feedback about your work, which is what happens during critiques, the more you learn about the process of making art; and the more you understand, the tougher you get. This is what I mean by *taking art apart*. You, in the end, are taken on a journey, whether you realize it or not. You can be changed and transformed, and shown visions you never thought would ever exist in a million years. It's a good thing!

Kathy S.
P.S. Ilana could probably have said this in three sentences!

Message Edited by KathyS on 07-12-2007 06:18 PM


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KathyS
Posts: 6,898
Registered: ‎10-19-2006
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Re: Interpreting words

Ilana, I'm dying here! I'm trying to talk to you as fast as my fingers can go, and my computer is downloading your paintingS on your plates, and my computer is freezing up, and all I want to do is tell you what a great, great idea and concept, AND ARTIST YOU ARE!!! typing as fast as I can to get my words out to you, because I am so excited about these pictures!!!.....PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE! Don't tell me they suck...those pictures came across onto my monitor screen so large, in so much detail, I could see every last brush stroke! You're wonderful! You're innovative! They are the most outrageously creative paintings I've ever seen! I am not kidding you! Your shadows and depth is amazing! the little lines, the colors that vibrate off of the surface! I love these kinds of concepts and ideas of yours, and please don't toss them, or put them down. Toss them my way if you don't want them! Some of the greatest works I've ever seen were done with this kind of spontineity, and you certainly have the heart to do it. For a lack of better word, with my limited vocabulary, You are AMAZING! TERRIC, AND BEYOND! I LOVE THEM, I LOVE THEM, I LOVE THEM! Do you think that describes how I'M FEELING RIGHT NOW!!!???? The really do touch me! sorry if i got a little carried away, but that just how i feel right now.
Kathy