Cleo C.

From the Art Room

    I have shied away mentally on many occasions from ‘doing, or ‘making’, so I know that there must be a reason or origin for those thoughts and feelings of inadequacy that hinder progress and stifle creativity.  I thought, therefore, that it would not be difficult to identify a ‘Committee’ that could be responsible, and looked forward to being able to ‘dismantle’ it.   Apart, however, from the usual parental ‘don'ts’ and warnings during the teen years which definitelyhave made me a non risk taker, I wassurprised to find that only one person stood out in my mind as the probableimpediment to the development of my creativity.

Scene 1 …..  Entering the Art room

    For once I wanted to walk in confidently with the same nonchalant but proprietary hold on my art materials like the other girls, but I could only manage to grab my stuff awkwardly and make it across the room without dropping something. Money was tight so I did not have the benefit of having access to art materials at home just for play, so my familiarity with drawing and colouring was minimal. Though I tried to walk in at the same time with other girls, I felt that the chilly derisive tone “Good morning Miss” was meant for me alone.  I heard it every time.  

Scene2……In the Art room

    Before I could find a seat, I became aware, despite my almost six foot stature, of an overwhelming feeling of smallness.  Before I could pluck up the courage to focus on the person standing erect on the platform in front of the class I became aware of words floating in the chilly air around me ….Perspective, Proportion, Still Life, Negative Space, on and on…. Miss SA was in full flow!

    Quickly, I would turn to a new page on my sketchbook so that last week’s effort would not be on view and try to put pencil to paper, but it was not long before she would approach my desk surrounded by her air of icy forbearance.  I then became aware of different words….”  “Not enough effort” “Not good enough’ “What’s that?”… “You should have…” “Can’t follow instructions?” etc, etc. Each time she spoke, I would feel my shoulders hunch and my head sink lower into my sketch pad.

    I stuck out my once-a-week torment for the rest of the term, taking refuge in my adequate performance in academic areas to support my self esteem and repress those humiliating memories.


    It’s a strange thing, though, that years later I found one of SA’s art pieces, a smallblack and white print, (she was a well known artist) when turning out the contents of an old box.  How did I come by one of her pieces? Why would I have bought one of them?  Those questions remain unanswered.

When I came upon the print in the old box there were a few brown spots on it, and in the years since, the paper has gradually crumbled carrying with it the image in the print.  Looking at the empty frame I was sure that I would now be released from the effect of the painful memories created in the Art Room.

My Committee of One was physically dismantled.  But I’m still not sure if I am free…..