My dad is very stingy with compliments. I remember telling him that his lack of compliments towards my accomplishments was affecting my self-esteem. I thought that he was a perfectionist — unable to find satisfaction in life. But after my struggle with art this summer, I now understand why my dad rarely gives out compliments. I have come to a conclusion that sometimes too much praise can deceive your judgment and hurt you.
Before joining Ms. Fletcher’s art studio, I thought that my art portfolio was outstanding. I always received many compliments about my artworks in school, so I felt like an art prodigy. However, all of that delusion faded away as I got to know the real world of art. I don’t think that Ms. Fletcher had a good first impression on me. I remember telling her that I wanted to go to RISD and that my artworks and grades were outstanding. As I showed Ms. Fletcher all of my artworks, she scrolled through them very fast with a disgusted face. After taking another look at my portfolio, she took off her glasses and said, “It’s shit!” I couldn’t believe what she had said. Those two words bounced against my eardrums, and I felt the blood rushing to my face. My ego got crushed, and I felt embarrassed of my art.
I felt offended by her comment; it took me a lot of time to let her words sink in. I thought that she was just trying to scare me so that I would work my ass off for the entire month. But, it turns out that she was just the same as Mr. Fletcher from the movie Whiplash. She was harsh with her comments and strict. The parallels between Ms. Feltcher and Mr. Fletcher go beyond the name. Her mouth had no filter whatsoever. Bad words flew across the room. Even kids were swearing across the studio. I felt bombed when I saw young kids that painted like professional artists. I started to look back at my life and wonder why I had wasted so much time. I had lost all hope, and getting accepted to RISD was now a dream.
I was on my meltdown 2.0. All the praise and positive comments I had received from my teachers, family members, and friends had put me on a pedestal; and just in two days with Ms. Fletcher, I felt like a failure. As I stared at my calendar and counted the days I had left before submitting my portfolio, I started to freak out. I had exactly 17 days left before my deadline. That’s when I had an impulse to put my ego aside for a moment and stopped being such a wuss.
From that day on every time, I stepped into Ms. Fletcher’s art studio, I put my ego aside and focused on learning. Unlike my past self, I was open to criticism about my artworks — I considered the younger kids in the studio my side-mentors. The moment I accepted the fact that I didn’t know anything about art is when I started to lose myself in the studio. I became more loose with my strokes and made constant mistakes in my sketches. I didn’t feel frustrated or mad. I felt immersed in the learning process while being exposed to new techniques and media.
In 17 days I was able to make 11 artworks. January was probably the busiest month of my life, yet it was the most rewarding and productive. As I look back at my vacation, I don’t regret spending an entire month painting because this experience helped me grow as an individual. I learned that everything was possible with hard work and self-discipline and that staying humble about your strength is the only way to grow.