Closed Minds: A problem in Art students

Image by Cottonbro

Being a teenager comes with a lot of feelings of superiority that continue well into their lives after they hit their 20’s. They feel invincible, their ego grows, they want to make their own decisions without knowing anything about the world and always feel they are always night, when most of the time they are wrong. This rings truer for those whom try to pursue a career in the arts.

Once a teenager discovers their interest in the arts, they’re determined to learn as much as possible of the area of their choice. It can be anything from singing, dancing , acting, literature, photograph, drawing or painting. If these young adult live in a part of a town, county or state where there isn’t much art surrounding them, it can be hard to learn about these new skills they want to acquire. There may not be a person to help them develop or navigate their interests, which is very common even with art programs in schools. They’re only option is to take learning into their hands, and that’s exactly what they do. These future artists begin to read books or scout the internet for anything they can find, sometimes a combination of both resources. with much research they begin developing their skills without direction, without knowing what comes first or what comes after, this phase is like having your music on shuffle. At times this is perfectly acceptable depending on each situation because even without a road map they are focused, learning and crafting their skills. Once they feel ready they begin sharing their work with friends and family, most of may encourage them and tell them what a great job they are doing, even without knowing if it is done well or not. This encouragement is essential it boosts the teenager’s self-esteem, ego, pride and mood, so much that some go on to apply and be accepted in college art programs which usually consist of a portfolio or seminar audition.

Once in college they become difficult students that deny they need more help than they realized. They think that they are experts in their area of interest and in some occasions can become students that dismiss their courses because they feel they will not learn anything because they already “know the material”, even if they don’t. They miss out on important information that can develop their skills and instead of there being progress in their craft, it plateau. And while they do not notice it, their friends start surpassing them when at the beginning those same friends were far behind them. What they will notice are the grades, their friends scoring 95%-100% while

they score 90%-956. An A is still an A but they start to question how did their friends do better but their acquired ego will not let them face that they need to improve and that there are areas of needed significant improvement to the professor. These students are completely close minded, they think they don’t need to improve and make excuses for their mistakes, whether they believe it or not. They get incredibly defensive and they feel this way because it’s their craft, it is a reflection of who they are and feel like they are being attacked personally when the professor critiques their work. I do note that it is important to say that professors give constructive criticism and it is up to the student what they do with it, and not everything said may apply to their case. Professors aren’t the only ones giving these closed minds critiques, but their fellow students as well. In these student critiques they will not get offended as even the harshest are completely dismissed because they feel they are superior in comparison to their fellow students.

A professor might say to a painting student that their colors are muddied, which is when the colors are desaturated; like grays, browns and others. The student in this case will respond with; “That was my goal as I love these colors, so that is why they look like that”, this could be somewhat acceptable depending on the assignment but if the student, which has not worked with color before, answers like this they are not only dismissing a very mostly valid critique but of opening the conversation and asking how to work with the medium so it doesn’t happen again. Which may help not only them but their fellow students as well if they are encountering the same problems. They would go as far as trying to argue, raise their voices, get angry and flustered because they do not want to accept that they are not as good as they thought they were. The same thing might happen to a student drawing a disproportional figure, a student learning guitar refusing to accept that their instrument is out of tune, a dancer with poor posture and the list could go on with every career related to the arts.

IT is understandable that it can be hard to learn any skill by one’s self and that those that do should be proud of what they have accomplished. It’s also important to remain open to the comments of others, yes your parents and friends will be supportive but that is their job. They will tell them what they think they want them to hear and at times that means they are being insincere. Having someone else comment and help these students be better and grow because the last thing they want is for these students to remain close minded and to not be an artist that cannot produce beyond the line of mediocrity.

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