Column: Art through the ages

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Ingram’s owl drawing from eighth grade received criticism.

Taylor Ingram, Reporter and Cartoonist

If you were to ask me in middle school if I’d ever move away, the answer could never be yes. I thought I’d live my whole life here, start to finish. However, that all changed when I was in 8th grade. My dad got a promotion and told us we’d be moving to McPherson, Kansas. It’s only about an hour away, but to me it seemed like I was moving across the globe. I felt like I was leaving everything behind: My relationships, my accomplishments, even the house I spent 10 years of my life at. 

To be honest, if I hadn’t moved there, I wouldn’t have even known the town existed. It’s so tiny and it seemed like everyone already knew each other. That being said, it was really hard to fit in, especially as a middle schooler. I moved to McPherson in December after the first semester of 8th grade.

Despite all the hardships, I was really excited! I would be moving to a new house that I really liked, I could make some new friends, and overall have a fresh start before high school. Over everything else though, the thing I was most excited about was my budding interest in art.

Middle school was when I decided to take art more seriously. Prior to moving, I still loved art and drawing. I’d taken the art classes at Maize Middle and was really excited to take a more advanced class. However, this class most definitely was not the dream I’d hoped. 

Every week, we’d have class sketchbook critiques, if you could even call them that. A critique should be helpful or constructive, and should help the artist improve. However, for these critiques, that was definitely not the case. Everyone put their sketchbook on a table and went around choosing one drawing they liked, one they didn’t like, and a reason for both. The whole idea was to help others improve, but middle schoolers don’t know that. Kids can be really harsh. I remember a drawing in specific that got loads of backlash from my classmates.

The prompt that week was for an owl. I knew most people would probably try a realistic drawing referenced straight from a picture, so I tried to switch it up and do a cartoony, spooky looking owl. At the time, I was really happy with the outcome and excited to see what others would think of the quirky style. When critiques came along, I was harshly mistaken. Other students bashed my work, saying it looked “too weird” or that it didn’t even look like an owl. As a young artist, comments like these are what bring you down the most. This situation happened more than once, and it definitely takes a toll on your self confidence. 

My teacher in McPherson didn’t have the best influence on my art, either. She used to constantly tell me that I was too scared of shadows, and that my shading needed to be more intense. She was right, but the way she handled it wasn’t. She had me do all of my drawings for the rest of that year in pen because my shading was more noticable. Granted, my drawings did look better and had more value, but I don’t think it was worth all the stress of making mistakes and restarting a piece over and over again.

It also didn’t help that my best friend was an art prodigy, who made drawing look way easier than it actually was. I looked up to her, and it seemed like she could draw anything perfectly. As I think back, she never really gave me the support that a friend and mutual artist probably should. Of course, she’d always appreciate and thank me for my compliments, but I don’t think she ever returned the favor.

My family and I decided to move back at the end of the school year. I’m glad to have moved back to Maize. The support here is more than I could have ever asked for. My parents might have always been with me, but the friends I have here never fail to pick me up when I dislike a drawing. The art teachers here at Maize High are the best influences I could ever have. They’ve helped me improve and grow in ways I never thought imaginable. Even though McPherson gives me harsh memories, I don’t think I’d be where I am today without my experience there. I’m glad to be here in Maize and I’m glad to be an artist.