Why I love art – Britt Greenwood
Why do I love art? I love art because it doesn’t confine or define; I love art because it isn’t barred by rules or rulers.
Some events, some people and some actions can direct the course of a child’s life. I came across a book the other day that was my pivot in life directions. Linnea in Monet’s Garden was gifted to me by my sweet grandmother, Gloria, when I was 10 years old. It was a purchase she made while visiting the Metropolitan Museum in NYC where she observed some of Monet’s work.. The book was obviously about Impressionist painter Claude Monet.
I recall starring at each Water Lily painting, my eyes absorbing the soft pastel colors. For a ten year old, the idea behind impressionism is facinating— looking closely at blurry images, far from realistic or recognizable. But from a distance, the painting is a masterpiece. The book showed multiple versions of the Japanese Bridges which became even more impressionistic, (borderline abstraction), as he began loosing his site. Monet painting through his failing site showed me what unyielding passion was. It was moving to me, even at 10 years old.
Two years after recieving the book around my 12th birthday, I read it again. This time, I was inspired to use birthday money to buy canvas and acrylic paint. I am confident at that point in my life I had only visited one museum, the OKC Museum of Art, after begging my dad to take me. Most of my family had no interests in exposure to the arts. I remember my mother being puzzled by me painting. She never said anything, but I could see it in her expression and lack of interest.
Here is my first painting ever, inspired by Monet:
Shortly after my first and second paintings, I was placed in 7th grade middle school art. Under the leadership of what I would consider the worst art teacher ever, I left with my own experience of Impressionism: the impression that I would never be talented or disciplined enough to pursue art. For months we were not allowed to talk in 5th period art class. The entire semester we made perspective drawings — the train track, the city, etc. Creating one, two and three point perspectives in silence was crushing to any creative soul. Only the shy architect types received praise for their perfect perspectives. The rest of us sloppy students were left wondering what the hell we had just experienced. In a rural community with little exposure to the arts, we were convinced that art is not fun. Art is made up of rulers and strait lines. I did not draw or paint again for 5 years.
Shame on that teacher; something my Grandma Gloria would say.
During high school I wearily considered art again, but I was informed art was not an option for me because I participated in school sports. Athletes can’t be artist? I guess Desmond Mason didn’t get the memo. By the end of September, after my last softball game and sport of high school, I was placed in an off-season athletic class to work out. I asked to be allowed to take art instead. It was only 2 weeks after the death of my brother, and I needed a change and and outlet. I didn’t even care if I sucked at art. The art teacher then asked the principal’s permissionfor me to join. He said no, and I wasn’t shocked.
I’m not sure if it was me being a typical I don’t give a shit senior or because I was surging with a mix of independence and sorrow after moving out of my mom’s home following the death of my brother, because I wasn’t going down without a fight. I demanded a seat across from The Man, Principal B. (Not Principal Belding, but I wished it was). I told him how for 4 years my options were hindered by the school’s unfair schedule. I added that I was finished with sports, and I had worked my ass of to be an honor student despite working sometimes 30 hrs a week.
The next day, I was sitting in art class. The stubborn teenager prevailed.
By the following September, I began college at Oklahoma State University, majoring in Studio Art. That same year, 10 years after recieving Linnea in Monet’s Garden and the last year of Grandma Gloria’s life, I saw several of Monet’s Water Lily paintings in person.