The View from the Studio Door: How Artists Find Their Way in an Uncertain World
By Ted Orland (2006)
By Ted Orland (2006)
Chapter 4: The Education of the Artist, part 2
Before I begin my review of this next section of Orland’s book, I’ll share that my husband and I are joining John Stewart’s “Rally to Restore Sanity” and Stephen Colbert’s “Rally to Keep Fear Alive” on the Mall in Washington D.C. on October 30th. Guess which side we're on?? We have our tee shirts, buttons, and posters ready to go. Will you be there?
Back to Orland’s book: After encouraging us to seek a broad education and also specific areas of learning that enhance our work, he now turns his attention to the types of choices we make. Any choice can turn into a series of unpredicted events – avenues that repeatedly bifurcate to create an unanticipated path of learning.
Here’s an example: I’ve been a professional artist for a long time, but at one point decided to adopt a second discipline. So, I went back to college and earned a graduate degree earth science and taught at a college. Right after I retired from that I decided to take a four-week temp job scoring high school math standardized tests by computer. I decided to do this because it was obvious that college students lacked math skills, so I wanted to know how and what high schoolers were being taught. (BTW – it was appalling!) Anyway, one of the other scorers on my team was a poet who also owned a small publishing company. We got to talking over coffee breaks and he became interested in my art. When our temp jobs ended, he contacted me and asked if I’d be interested in illustrating some of his poems for publication. I agreed. Eventually, other poets saw my work and hired me as well. Before I knew it, I had plenty of work as an illustrator and a nice boost in income!
One decision led to an unexpected outcome that eventually became a sideline in my art career. As Orland writes: The difference is where we search for the possibilities, and in that regard some encounters will always prove more consequential than others. Each of us has a path, a turning point (or many of them), and a story.
Orland asks us:
Where did you learn the things that really matter to you?
Where was that critical fork in the road that directed you to this point?
Who have been your real teachers?
I’m asking you, too.