“EDIT”I found it! How Do You Learn to Be an Artist?


I have been looking for the above article forever and I was looking for an email and finally found it again!!!

I never meant Mercedes Matter, but I am sure I would have loved her!  Please read the link above because she is so right today just as she was in 1973.

Here is an email I wrote to a friend, one who nominated me for Delaware Art Teacher of the Year.  I wrote this email, excerpt below, when I was really have a hard time with my administrators, still trying to find the reasons why everything was happening to me.  If you haven’t realized, I am a very passionate person and I do not sugar coat or hold back: a strength or weakness, it depends on the day.  Enjoy my emotional writing!

Art education in my school is DEAD.  I am teaching, talking, thinking like every other teacher in my building.  And my brain and soul are screaming out for help!  I am an art teacher!  This is not how it is done!   What is going on! 

Sooooo I googled, “How do you learn to be an artist?” and I found this article entitled the same as my question.  I cried while reading it because she is right.  She is just as right today as she was in 1973 and I had never heard of her before…..  PLEASE READ.


  1. Students should be creating art, everyday in art class, no questions, point blank!
  2. Art is a process!!!!  One learns during it, not before (this is preparation), not after (that is reflection, DURING!!!!! Learning occurs during the art MAKING process. 
  3. Art class needs an IEP, its personal, independent, and individual to each student.

So, after reading the article and making my 3 above conclusions.  The ONLY whole component in DPASII that completely applies to the “true” and “best” art education experience is Component 4: Professional Responsibilities.

We know how to make artists.  We know how to teach creativity.  We are the only place in a school left that students are able to learn the skills needed in a creative, changing, future society.  Art teachers have been doing it the best they could in between the lines and under the radar for years.  That is how I learned from George Shotzberger.  We did a writing piece here, he gave a multiple choice test there, and he created rubrics for grades so he can prove to others we learned, but now……..

  • My students are writing more than creating.
  • My students are discussing more than creating.
  • My students are being assessed more than creating.

Since the first day of school, six weeks ago, each child in my school has completed ONE 9by12 piece of artwork in pencil and crayon.  ONE……

WHAT KIND OF ART EDUCATION AM I PROVIDING………  this is why I cry at night.  this is why it takes me hours and hours to write lesson plans.  this is why I hate my job.


We have to do something.  I have plans, small ones, but plans.

  1. My district started the idea of “clusters” for our gifted and talented program a few years ago.  It is not gifted and talented at all and in the past I hated, but this year, it will give me a unique opportunity because it is interest based and learner focused.  No standards needed, no lesson plans to write.  Students will choose what to make, and the materials needed.  (I get extra money for this too, so I can go buy stuff I don’t have.)They will decide what they will do each day and create their own timeline for completion.  At the end, I plan on recording them talking about their art, their process, their future plans.  I guarantee they will learn.  I don’t have to talk about it, assess it, write damn lesson plans, go to meetings, talk to my partner, or nothing.  All I have to do is guide and be there when I am needed.  Maybe I can make some art of my own….That is how art education should be.  

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