One of my students was goading me the other day. He’s one of my better students. Very talented, bright. Does work that shows integrity and directness. But he doesn’t always produce the work that is required, i.e. homework. And sometimes in class he seems inattentive. In fact, one day I had said to him, after he had told me he really wasn’t the slacker that he appeared to be, “You are too talented to be a slacker” and he made a face that told me he had heard that before.
But back to his goading me. He said he was going to crew on a boat this summer, one that was going to the Bahamas via New York and that maybe he wasn’t coming back. And what did I think about that. My reply was: “You are talking to the wrong person. I’m an art school dropout.”
“No way,” he said. “Can’t be!” And I just walked away. He can figure that one out on his own.
I did hear a jazz musician (on CBC radio of course) talking about education in the arts. As jazz is more improvisational than classical music (which is the way I feel about my painting process), he put forward the thought that “if a person is going to do it, they will.” No amount of education will change that. The important quality to have, besides intelligence and talent, is self-discipline. This is equally true in other artistic disciplines, writing, visual arts, disciplines where the heart/core of a person is the important quality that creates valuable work. I often wonder what my life would be like if I had stayed in school. It would probably be very different, but I’ll never know and have no regrets.