From grade 7, I had begun to delve into all the art classes we were allowed to take in one semester. It started with the basic classes, which I absolutely LOATHED! Having to relearn all the things I had been teaching myself since before I stepped into highschool made me feel stupid and underchallenged. I needed more advancement and complication to being advancing past my own self-taught capacity.
In came Ms. Diment. A quiet, matter of fact kind of teacher. She was a talented artist, competing in many competitions among professionals. She would spend much of the time that we were working, on one of her amazing wildlife pieces. When she learned where I was at in my level of skill, she was the one to recognize it and push it further. After the very first class, I remember her already scheming to give me extra work, something different from the rest of the class, to practice the skills I had.
Before long, she had given me a handful of the most AMAZING Prismacolor pencils I’d ever played with. Being from a family where money was harder to stretch, I had only used the Rose branded pencils and crayons, and if you have ever used them, you knew there was no magic there, let alone just plain decent COLOR! I worked on a dragon piece that was stunning. To this day, I wish I would have kept it. I learned so much about the magic and alchemy of colors. I never knew I could combine such colors together! It was bliss. While the class worked on shadows and lines I was working on more complex issues. She fostered my skills at the level required.
I was soon competing and winning several local and state competitions. And the teacher always gracefully pushed me when I would get frustrated or stuck where I was. I felt good knowing that Ms Diment was challenging me, and helping me push past my comfort zone. I grew faster and further than I ever thought I could. And she never treated me or the other students like stupid little children, as many of you have probably experienced. She watched each student grow and challenged them beyond the standard teaching requirements of our classes.
From that class on, I would take as many classes as I could. I learned so much more than a book or history lesson could have ever taught me. She inspired me to go against the flow, to challenge myself beyond my level of skill and evolve. To allow my work to evolve as I trained myself. And in that, Ms Diment has been my favorite and most inspiring teacher. She showed me that the professional world of art was possible for anyone, if you worked hard for it, and you knew what you wanted. Straight and forward. No frills. No flattery.
That’s what we all need in an Art teacher, in an art mentor. Like clay in a potter’s hand, we need to be as art students. And look beyond our level of skill, and move forward.