I’ll Take Art History for $100, Alex

I should preface this post with: I love art and I love schools that have art classes.  This is a just a little tongue-in-cheek.

The dread comes around 1:45PM Tuesdays and Thursdays. The day was Thursday.  The scene replays vividly in my mind.  I look around the room, most everyone looks a bit on the ‘joyous’ side. Fresh eager faces – sketch pads in hand, pencils at the ready.   In comes the teacher.  Up goes the drop cloth draped over a bumpy mound in the center of the room. A clutter of bicycles and assorted bike parts meets the eye.  We are instructed to draw the  shapes of the ‘negative space’.  Twenty-five minutes in to the exercise we are forced to ‘take a creative break’ –  I took mine in the parking lot, got on my own bike and rode home. Screw Art 100.

I get home, lock up my bike and enter our little shotgun duplex apartment.  My boyfriend looks up at me with eyebrows raised as I throw down my sketch pad in utter disgust and exclaim, “I can’t draw that fucking negative space! I hate art class!” There, I said it. Then I cried. Who cries over drawing the spaces between wheel spokes? Me. That’s who.

It was the first class I’d ever dropped in the sum total of 2 semesters of college that I had under my proverbial belt.  And let me tell you how it felt.  FREAKING’ AWESOME.   I wish I had the wherewithal to stand up during any of the 5 torturous art classes I attended with the words of my son at his 5 year-old birthday party, when he was annoyed that we had to break open a pinata instead of the gifts… “THIS IS A PLACE OF PAIN AND MISERY!”    Yes, art class is a place of pain and misery for me.

I am no artist.  I married one, and almost all of my friends are crazy amazing artists. I’m missing some sort of gene, that’s my best explanation.  I cannot translate what my eyes see or what may be in my mind to anything coherent on a piece of paper…and I’m just fine with that.  I feel a little weird admitting I never really enjoyed art classes – they were filled with frustration, tragedy, and lies.

  • Frustration: not feeling comfortable with the artistic medium we used (from crayons to clay – it all didn’t work for me)
  • Tragedy: the results of my attempts
  • And Lies: from the poor teacher who had to say something positive. You can’t say “well, this one has a gene missing” on a report card.

The Lazy Cowgirls sing it best…

In the days of college I learned something – those who can’t draw negative space take Art History.   We were good friends, Art History and I.  Lectures, viewing art, and writing… I can do that.  I’ll take Art History for $100, Alex.

(Yes, yes – I know many art majors take Art History as part of their requirements….I took it in lieu of Art 100 for my ‘art’ requirement)

About Rutabaga the Mercenary Researcher

I'm a research librarian for Public Television, story teller, bike commuter, baker, music fiend, lover of reading & books, mother, wife, friend - and many more descriptive adjectives and nouns.
This entry was posted in art, Blogging, Humor, quitting, Story and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

37 Responses to I’ll Take Art History for $100, Alex

  1. Pingback: In an Ironic Twist of Fate – I Eat My Words | The Mercenary Researcher

  2. ridicuryder says:


    Dropping the Rutabaga from your blog title has created a negative space. Blogging is an art of sorts. I can’t think of an art form higher than belly dancing. Are you sure your not artistic?


  3. I’m not so good with drawing. Painting I’m much better at, especially if it’s gloss or emulsion on walls, doors and skirtings! 😉

    We all have our strengths and weaknesses, and while it’s a pain to be around people who are good at things we wish we could do, it would be really bloody boring if we were all good at the same things. I’m saying this as much to myself as to anyone else who reads this.

  4. Elyse says:

    My brother has two masters in fine art — studio painting and sculpture. Me? I cannot do paint by numbers. C’est la vie.

  5. calahan says:

    My sister is a talented artist, so my fear of comparison always kept my own artistic abilities stagnant at about the preschool level. It is one of those talents I wish I had, along with a knack for picking up languages. Or remembering first names immediately after meeting someone. Or creating dishes from scratch that don’t result in hash.

  6. rossmurray1 says:

    That’s like expecting every English major to be able to write. God forbid.

  7. leesa jackson says:

    for me it was always ” why am i being forced to take math classes–including statistics–when i just want to do art!?”

  8. List of X says:

    I had studied art for a few years, but I think the request to draw “negative spaces” would explode my brain too. WTF is a “negative space”? Is it empty space? Space in the shadow? Space made of anti-matter? Is it something I’m supposed to draw it with an eraser over a pencil drawing? I have no idea.

  9. Paul says:

    I can empathize Rutabaga. i have never been any good at drawing and have a hard time with stick men (the legs are too long or the arms are too high or too low – I think we should have stick-person models to help practice – ha!). We all have our strengths and weaknesses. One of the things that annoys me is that in our culture we are expected to pursue (and get better at) that which we do the worst – that is just plain torture and valueless. Then if we don’t we are made to feels guilty. Great post. Thank You.

    As an aside, Rutabaga, I just guest posted a three part post (all published now) on a new blog that starts at https://julienoblog.wordpress.com/2015/05/18/melanie-part-1/ If you have time, I would be honored for you to drop by. Thank You.

  10. Amy Reese says:

    Your artistry is with your words, Denise! That’s your art. I loved my Art History class in college. I could have easily have been an Art History major. Good to see you. 🙂

  11. TheLastWord says:

    I have often said that I cannot even draw a crooked line… I’m that bad. I also used to say ‘I wanted to be an architect but couldn’t draw a line’

    Apart from art – painting / drawing the other art form I don’t at all get is dance. Modern interpretiv dance, jazz etc. Actually all forms of dance – don’t get it.

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