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Zalman is pictured with his winning piece in ICJA's annual Bonnie Dayan a"h Art Competition last spring.
Zalman is pictured with his winning piece in ICJA’s annual Bonnie Dayan a”h Art Competition last spring.

For as long as I can recall, I have had a fascination with art, as well as a passion for its creation. Prior to beginning high school, I had received absolutely no training whatsoever regarding art, but that did not discourage me from drawing a great deal more than any average child. As I continued to mature into my adolescent years, I began to wonder whether or not art lessons would be beneficial to my growth as an artist. In fact, unlike a typical 14-year-old, my biggest concern about starting high school was not having enough time to draw or paint. I knew from my sibling’s experience in ICJA that sophomores are required to take an art class once a week, but as a freshman, the requirement did not apply to me.

Over time during the summer before high school, I decided that I definitely had to take art lessons. However, upon starting my new life as a high school student, I realized that after school activities consume an enormous amount of valuable time essential for completing assignments and projects. Disappointed, I was forced to postpone beginning art classes. A few weeks passed, and I understood clearer than ever that I needed to make time during the day to create art, as well as be challenged in the process. Doodling in the margins of my notebook was not the satisfaction I needed to mature artistically. Furthermore, my art-free schedule began taking a toll on my ability to focus in class. I found myself doodling an increasing amount during class due to the lack of a designated time to draw.

My mother suggested one day that I speak to someone about allowing me to join the art class provided for sophomores. Luckily, I was able to start art class the following Wednesday. At first it was confusing having to draw as an assignment, when I had been accustomed to drawing on my own. It took a few classes for me to realize that this form of drawing required more effort. Nevertheless, I enjoyed the class.

Over the course of the year I began showing Ms. Kelly, the teacher, the artwork I did outside of school. Much to my surprise, she was impressed and began sharing constructive criticism as to improve my drawing technique. Up until that point, my main source of constructive criticism was from my grandfather, a fellow artist with almost 78 years of artistic experience. I realized that I genuinely need constructive criticism to improve. When learning a new skill, I need an experienced individual to provide ways to improve rather than just listing errors. I also realized that it becomes complicated having only one source of advice. Having multiple sources of advice is important because it allows an individual to compare ideas and determine which advice is valid, as well as emphasize the areas where noticeable improvement is needed.

Although it was difficult at first drawing to meet a curriculum, I instantly enjoyed art class. I began anticipating projects with increasing excitement. I was able to express myself through the variety of projects we were given and most importantly, I was encouraged to draw during the day. Over the course of the year I gained a great quantity of artistic knowledge and became friends with a few of the other students in my art class. Overall, I am deeply thankful I was accepted into art class.

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