September reminds me that after I retired from 30 years of teaching high school and middle school, I experienced a period of adjustment when classes began in the fall. I was so used to being on a tight schedule and having a professional life regulated by bells, that I wrote a lesson plan each day to ease myself into retirement. I even printed out the lesson plan: time to get up; time to shower; time to read the paper; time to do chores; and, finally, time to paint. I had not had time to paint while I was still teaching, so this time was a blessing. The lesson plan writing continued for a few weeks until one day I forgot to write a plan, and I knew I was adjusting to being retired from teaching.
I am newer to painting than some of you. My degrees are in English, not art. But art has always fascinated me. The high school I went to did not have any kind of arts program, so my fascination had to be fed by visiting museums and enjoying the work of others. Then, a few years before I retired, I applied for a Lilly Teacher Creativity Grant, and I received one! The subject of my Lilly grant was that I wanted to study connections between writing and painting. I’ve always been a writer. I’d never been a painter. I used the Lilly grant money to take the first art lessons I’d been able to take, and that summer I drew and painted and experimented. I’ve always preferred watercolor. I can’t really say why, except that there’s a light and flow to watercolor that I don’t see in any other medium. It fascinates me to wet the paper, add the watercolor paint, and see what happens. And now I have a studio in my home. I can paint whenever I like.
One thing I learned from studying painting during my summer Lilly grant time is that ALL the arts are connected. All of them are about history. All are about expression. All of them have a frame. And I could go on. It is important for those of us who love art and who do art to make sure that ALL the arts are available to students. I played classical music in my high school classroom while students wrote in their journals. If I forgot to turn on Mozart, students would request it. I had students draw, and from the drawing I had them choose a story of their own to write. I incorporated as many of the arts as I could when I was teaching literature and writing. It’s all connected.
As people interested and engaged in the arts, it is up to us to keep those creative juices flowing for others. Just something to think about.
But that’s just My Opinion.