Meet Tomorrow’s Artists .....
by Bill Hudson
I recently participated in another
at a nearby elementary school where my daughter Kim teaches and is the event organizer. It is such a valuable experience for the kids that I want to encourage anyone reading this Newsletter to consider starting, suggesting, supporting, or participating in a similar event for the children near you.
Kim’s concept is simple. About 20 invitees representing a large range of professions meet at 8:15 a.m. in the school administration office. Speakers have included firemen, doctors, nurses, real estate agents, an ocularist, CHP officers, writers, physical therapists, athletes, small business owners, military personnel, trainers, musicians, policemen, vocalists, dentists, visual artists, a prosthetist, mechanics, medical equipment salesmen, engineers, carpenters, insurance agents, scientists, and automobile dealer representatives. On this past Career Day, Ferrari & Maserati of Newport Beach provided two cars and a speaker, my son-in-law Doug, Director of Parts and Service.
Proud students escort each speaker to a designated classroom. The presenters have time to set up before beginning consecutive 25-minute presentations to three classes of about 35 children each which rotate through led by their teachers. Each class may be second to sixth graders, yet all of the kids are eager, behaved, and attentive.
As a watercolor artist, I begin by telling the children that we each have purpose and we each have unique gifts. No one can be good at everything. Happiness comes from finding and developing your own talents. You will not find true happiness trying to be popular or like someone else. Be yourself and try many things to discover what you enjoy and where you have talent. Be ready to work hard because part of life's enjoyment is getting better through perseverance.
I then ask the kids: who likes art, who likes to make art, who is already good at art? We then discuss forms of visual art, painting media, painting styles, and related jobs. I discuss education and training requirements, earnings, sources of income, and some pros and cons of being an artist. I tell them that the vocation of art comes with a lot of freedoms but successful artists have something in common. They work hard! And there are no guarantees. That is true with all professions. Sometimes I throw in the Van Gogh example of a great artist who only sold one painting in his lifetime, but now his paintings sell for millions. On this particular Career Day, I told the class how I recently saw a Van Gogh painting in a man’s house in Beverly Hills during a fund raising event on his property. The man had paid $56 million (more than the value of his house and property) for a single small Van Gogh painting of a chair!
I tell the kids that painters observe the world differently than other people. Then, through a series of questions and answers we discuss how a tree changes in appearance as it gets further and further away. I pull out my watercolors and quickly paint an up-close detailed pine tree using rich blues and yellows on the LH side of a sheet of paper. You can hear the kids going “Ooh” and “Aah” as the colors blend while the outside edges remain sharp. I then wet the RH half of the paper, wait a minute, and paint a small group of faraway pine trees wet-on-wet with a single blue-gray color. As the edges immediately blur, I hear more “oohs and aahs.”
Finally we discuss the horizon and I introduce the concept of a vanishing point. All eyes focus on the classroom dry-erase board where I quickly draw an isometric view of a house using two vanishing points and temporary guide lines. As I erase the guide lines I hear the kids talking, “That looks so real,” “Wow”.
During 15 years of doing this at two different schools, there has never been any incident of poor behavior. The kids have all been respectful, inquisitive, amazed, and appreciative. As they leave I let the teachers give each child a few handouts which have included 4x6 prints of my paintings, a brochure, the Watercolor Pocket Guide, and sometimes a framed print to the “Lucky Student.”
When the sessions are over, the presenters meet back in the administration building for lunch. First timers wonder aloud if they added value; could they have done better; was it worth it. Their questions will soon be definitively answered.
Two weeks later we presenters each receive one of life’s great gifts …. a package of honest, un-edited “thank you” notes from each and every child who attended the three classes. Often the notes are accompanied with a thoughtful drawing done by that student as a gift for the speaker. Here are some of the more exceptional notes and/or excerpts that I received a couple of weeks ago. I have tried to type these just as I received them.
Dear Mr. Hudson,
Thank you for coming to Leo Carrillo Elementary School to tell my class about your job as an artist. Your art is very beautiful and realistic. Your skill to create something so beautiful makes my heart feel as if it has been filled with joy. I like how you enjoy painting the ocean because the ocean reminds me of so many amazing and beautiful things. Also, thank you for including drawing perspectives to help us with our art.
When I look at your art it makes me feel like I’m a swaying willow dancing with the wind. Your watercolor art takes me to a happy place and describes so many things all in one painting. It is so hard to believe that your paintings are made with a brush and color, they look so realistic. I truly do find it unbelievable that your paintings are not a real photograph. The depth of the details and of the objects in the art are completely incredible. When I looked at the photograph of your art I was astonished when I was told it was a painting. It was absolutely amazing. It still blows my mind even when I look at it now, it gets better each and every time.
Once again, my class and I thank you so much for coming and sharing your love of art with us. We appreciate you giving us art tips to help us improve. I want to be as great of an artist as you one day, but until I do I will strive to always become the better version of myself.
Now I know some of you are thinking that Bill wrote that letter himself.
I honestly don’t think I could write something so sensitive. Cheryl is only a 6
grader who appears destined to do well on whatever path she chooses.
Dear Mr. Hudson
Thanks for coming to Carrillo! I learned more about art that day than I ever had in a lifetime! I really do like art but I’m not to good at it. My family is pretty good at art …………………….
(skip one paragraph)
You didn’t just give me some advice on drawing, you also told me how not all painters are rich but not all painters are poor. I loved the story of the guy who only sold one painting. His paintings weren’t famous back then. He was just a poor painter doing what he loved. Once he died, his brother kept his paintings and sold them. They are now worth 100 millions and more! I remember a neighbor of yours bought a painting of a chair for 55 million dollars! That was worth more than his property! Out of that 55 million dollars, you could buy over 220 lamborghinis!!!
Thanks for coming to Carrillo! I can’t wait till you come back!!!
Dear Mr. Hudson
I really enjoyed your visit to Career Day this year. You are very influence on the whole class. I am pretty sure that half the kids in my class now want to grow up just like you. I would like to be an artist if the rest of the jobs that I want won’t allow me to work there. But maybe I won’t be as such of a good artist. Because I’m not good at drawing. I am really bad at it.
Also I really like the way you paint with watercolor. It is so real life to me. Sometimes ……
I am now skipping six complete paragraphs to get to the P.S. …. Bill Hudson
P.S. Hi I am 11 years old. And I am a 5
grader. I like to draw it is just that I’m not good at it. I think that my hobby is to collect animals. Right now I have about 6. I have 3 cats and 3 dogs. I use to have way more but they ran away, gave them away, and died. I think that I had about 20 cats over the past years and like 10 dogs. I use to have birds, fish, turtles, chickens, hamsters, cats, and dogs. I didn’t have those animals for that long. But I never killed them. But my neighbors did. They hate animals so they killed them. Our birds flew away. The chickens we gave them away. The fish died. The turtles died. Some of the cats and dogs I still have. And the hamsters killed each other. I had a mom hamster and she had kids then one day they killed each other. The neighbors are the ones that killed the cats and dogs. One more thing. Thank you for coming to Career Day this year.
I've never met A... C... yet after only 25 minutes, this child valued my presentation enough to type two full pages, single spaced, telling me what she learned about art and what she has already learned about herself. She also attached a detailed color drawing of animals and plants that took a lot of time to create. A..C... is a generous person who shared a lot of her feelings and talents. I do feel sorry for the loss of her animals, but it seems A...C... is comfortable with herself and is capable of plowing through adversity.
Hello, Mr. Hudson/Water Artist I really appreciate you coming to Career day and giving us 25 minutes of good advice. ……..
Skip one paragraph
I was also that guy with the green hoodie and the guy who had clever art questions. And the person who was kinda interested in your ideas. I really hope I see you again next Career Day. By the way did you see that ferrari. A lot of people are really interested in the car, but I’m not really a car guy and I took NO interest in it.
Educated by Peter ….
If you’re a parent, a grandparent, an artist, or any other professional who wants to help kids find their purpose, I strongly recommend your involvement in "Career Day."