Friday, October 7, 2011

Drawing the Line

When I was in Elementary School I recall doing a lot of art projects. I remember being slightly excited and more than slightly anxious when they were assigned.

You see, I loved tag board. I loved the idea of art, though my execution was terrible.

I did not love my lack of creativity and the inevitable "help" my mother would offer.

Each trip to Target meant we would buy two pieces of tag board, the first being a practice piece, you see.

Each time I thought for sure I wouldn't need the second piece. I would get it right the first time.

I should have bought stock in the stuff.

I've never been one to focus on anything artistic. Even now, I use Shutterfly as my only means of Scrapbooking and PowerPoint as any illustration I ever need. If it takes more than an hour to do any project, I'm just not that interested.

You could say I have artistic ADD.

Anyway, my mother is a perfectionist. She would immediately begin "helping" by drawing lines with a ruler and getting out stencils. While other children were out there (GASP) free-forming their text on tag board, I sat with ruled lines and small dots to indicate the spot where the stencil should butt up, thus allowing for even and clear spaces between letters for maximum legibility.

Making the lines took about an hour, so you can imagine how thrilled I was to do anything beyond that. While most kids were willy-nilly gluing on objects from magazines and catalogues, I was story-boarding my ideas by carefully placing items down on the tag board in the form I wished them to be later.

If those were deemed appropriately spaced, I would then draw a line at the top and bottom of the item so I would know where to glue when I was finally allowed the glue stick.

Back then I saw my mother as a demanding perfectionist. Now I think she just wanted us to take pride in our projects. I think she was encouraging us to think and plan before doing. Just as I would always write an outline to a paper, having a plan before execution was crucial to tag board art in her mind.

Wee 'Burb is too young for any kind of art, really. Though I do of course hang her "sticker art" from daycare (which is exactly as it sounds, she places stickers on a piece of paper). When she's old enough for art, I doubt it will involve tag board. Instead, it will involve whatever future form of illustration software is out there.

I wonder, though, if I will be standing over her, encouraging her to count cursor spaces between illustrations and double check her fonts are all sans serif.

How did your parents "help" with your homework growing up? Were you grateful for their involvement or resentful? What do you think now as you're older? How do you plan to help your children or students?


Kat said...

My achilles' heel on elementary school projects was forgetting to bring home the piece of paper that actually dictated what we were meant to be doing. This was a great source of strife in our household. Beyond that, they just let us have-at. It was a cruel, artistic world out there.

Shell said...

I cringe when my oldest has artistic projects to do. B/c I think that it should be his effort... but I know there are parents who will help their kids and those kids will have these perfect projects.

When I was teaching, I knew who did theirs on their own and whose parents helped. I was an easier grader on those who did theirs on their own. ;)

Anonymous said...

That seems like not fun at all. I would be artistically ADD if I had to spend so much time making perfect straight lines too. I wonder if this is why I'm such a bad cutter. I never had the patience for proper scissor techniques!

Ameena said...

This is really interesting to read because I had the opposite problem. My parents NEVER helped us with our homework. I suppose it's because there were 3 of us and there just wasn't enough time but I can't tell you how many projects I turned in that were totally sub-par because I had no idea what I was doing.

It's fascinating to see the other side of the coin!

Rach (DonutsMama) said...

My dad mostly helped me with math. The artistic stuff I did on my own. But I'm definitely a perfectionist and I wonder how much that perfectionism has hindered my creativity.

Crystal said...

My mom didn't help much that I can remember :) She was pretty busy. I've actually just recently started homeschooling my daughter and it's been a whole new learning experience. I'm trying to learn how SHE prefers me to teach her.

Mads said...

That's funny...I loved tagboard projects! I got super into cutting construction paper "frames" for any written info or printed pictures.
My parents rarely helped, but I do remember my dad doing an entire Rube Goldberg assignment for me in his workshop. I mean, that was a serious crafting moment for my family.