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Got Lit Final

Got Lit Final

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Published by Danielle Stemen
Got Lit Final
Got Lit Final

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Published by: Danielle Stemen on May 01, 2013
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Stemen 1Danielle Stemen
Prof. PresnellEnglish 1103
20 Feb. 2013
“A” for 
“If you hear a voice within you say, ‘you cannot paint,’ then by all means, paint, and that
voice will be
silenced.” Van Gogh was probably referring to that “voice” as Mrs. P
, my highschool art teacher. I am passionate about what I do, and most people generally seem to appreciatethat. Mrs. P, on the other hand, did not. Out of all of the people who should have been significantin developing my art career, my own art teacher is the only one who failed to fulfill her sole purpose as an instructor.
In my junior year art class, we had what Mrs. P called “art critiques” after we finished a
 project. After we turned in our projects, Mrs. P would grade them. After she finalized grades, shewould administer class critiques. These critiques consisted of the class going out into thehallway, sitting down, while one student stood in front of everyone, holding up his or her artwork. The rest of the class was supposed to guess what grades we each got on our piece. Our teacher would grade us on each element and principle: 18-20 points meant that your work wasexceptional and required little to no improvement. 15-17 points meant that your work wasconventional, unimpressive. 13-15 points meant that your work was unsatisfactory and needed asufficient amount of work; Mrs. P considered 13-15 points to be embarrassing.We always had about a week or two to finish a project. One week, I slaved away on arealistic piece of an old couple, done in graphite and charcoal. I used up every second of theshort 90 minutes I received every day at school. And when I got home, I pushed my other 
Stemen 2homework to the side. Forget finding the derivative of the curve or analyzing Shakespeare. I hadartwork to do. I worked every day for a week; I would spend four or five extra hours after I gothome from school, hunched over my table under a dim light, shading, contouring, erasing, andsharpening my 4B
 pencil. I would get lost. It would get to 3 am before I’d descend back to earth
from my own planet far, far away. I was pleased with the finished result. I got a ton of compliments on this particular artwork. It was a portrait of an old couple, embracing and kissing,meant to epitomize the meaning of true love and loyalty. I was commended on my use of texture,contrast, and value. I was told that the piece had a lot of depth and dimension and looked veryrealistic. These compliments came from students who were extremely talented artists, so their opinions were considered very valuable to me. I turned it in to Mrs. P, confident that she wouldgive me a sufficient grade.A couple of days later, she returned the pieces back to us, grades and all. I had receivedsomewhere between a low B and a C. My heart sunk, weighed down by disappointment. Even
though it wasn’t perfect, I knew it was a lot better than what 95% of the othe
r kids had done. Thekids in my class lacked the drive and passion that I had. Mrs. P played favorites; she gave good
Stemen 3grades to the kids who did really poorly in art
she felt bad for them. Frankie, for example, was
terrible at art. I’m not trying to be rude or discouraging, but it was the truth. He didn’t try at all;he took the class because he thought it would be an easy A…and it was for him. I compare hiswork to preschool kids’ finger paintings— 
and even that is kind of a stretch. At least preschoolkids have creativity and imagination. He used generic pictures of sunsets as inspiration and hefinished his pieces in one class period, maybe even less. Mrs. P just gave him good grades because she felt sorry for him. She also only gave good grades to the students who had artistic parents that she was friends with. If I was an art teacher, I would give a student an A if they puteffort into their art, if they used all of their time to improve their work, making it the best it could
 possibly be. If you didn’t try, I wouldn’t reward you with a good grade. I already hate the idea of 
grading artwork, but if I had to do it, I would base grades on effort and drive and passion. Not pity. Not personal relationships. I would grade fairly. It was all about people-pleasing with Mrs.P.Anyway, back to the critiques. After I received my grade, scoring between 15 and 17 inevery category, I was pretty bummed. As my classmates and I gathered in the hallway, I wasfeeling pretty nervous and discouraged. I was embarrassed and
anxious. “Is my work really that bad?” “Maybe my piece isn’t as good as I thought.” I waited, dreading my turn. When I was up, I
was confused at the reaction I got. I thought my work was terrible
my grades surely reflectedthat. I was definitely not expecting the praise I got. Everyone was telling me how talented I was,how skilled I was. I remember turning beet red, like I always do when someone commends mywork. After the compliments dwindled down, and people stopped gushing, they started to guesswhat scores I got in each category.
“Okay. Contrast—what do you guys think I got?”

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