Art Studio and Life #14 featuring artworks and painting

Hello lovely family and friends

Edward Munch The Scream art meme

Do you remember learning to read? I do, I even remember some of the pictures in those Ladybird books. Dick and Sally in the garden with Spot and Puff – ‘Look Dick, look, see Spot run.’ The pictures were great, but the stories were dull as. My father insisted on hearing me read each night. I would sit, sweating, on the arm of his chair and (try to) read my homework reading book to him. He would get increasingly frustrated with me and occasionally would clip me around the ear. It often ended in tears, and the weekends were a blessed relief.

I only found out that I am dyslexic when I was studying psychology and read the diagnostics for it.

Eureka, lightbulb moment!

Junior school was tough, since they focused on all the things I found particularly difficult – reading, writing, spelling and times tables.

The number of times I got told I needed to stop being lazy, and JUST TRY HARDER.

And when people said “Enjoy it, your school years are the best years of your life” it made me think, ‘If that’s true, shoot me now.’

Did you feel the same?

The Junior school day was a trial to be endured through, with occasional bright spots doing art, until the bell rang and reprieved the prisoner. Oh joy! Definitely the agony and the extacy/ exstacey/ eccstasy/ esctacy /ecstasy.

Reading was daunting and looked increasingly ominous, as I could already tell that the fatter a book got, generally the fewer pictures it had. Why was that? Who on earth would want to read a book with no pictures?

Then I entered Mrs Horsefield’s class, she of blessed memory, when I was eight or nine. She read the whole of ‘The Hobbit’ aloud to us over a couple of weeks. Oh, my word! The glory! The adventure! The thrill! The suspense!

‘Well,’ I thought, ‘if that is what books have in them, I’m going to learn to read!’

 And I did. And I went several steps further and became a reading addict.

But as you have noticed, I still can’t spell or proofread. I write to you and then re-read it to correct my errors. I find a couple and correct them. All good, I think. Then sometime later, often after I have emailed you, I notice a few more. Where did they come from? I suspect that the letters move around when I am not looking… I know that numbers definitely do.

Today’s musings about education were prompted by friends’ current struggle to help their darling, alternatively wired child survive through the requirements of junior school.

I saw this posted by a teacher, isn’t it classic? I’m with you, kiddo!

As well as (eventually) teaching me how to read, school taught me how to survive failure, which is a vital life skill. Failure has taught me to be compassionate to others and empathise with them in a way that being successful might not have. We hate to see our children struggle and suffer, but that is often where they grow the most, especially if we comfort and support them through it. And it’s good to bear in mind that emotional intelligence is a better predictor of life happiness than academic success. 

I met Mrs Horsefield again once I was grown up, and thanked her and told her the impact she had had. She was mildly surprised at my extreme gratitude. So, you teachers, blessings on you! May you light many candles in the lives of those you teach, and may you be kind to those stumbling on the path.

Speaking of failure, Failure is integral to being an artist. You have to be prepared to make bad art, and then mediocre art, in the hope of one day making good art. Each painting has areas that are a struggle.

And all the while there is the little (or sometimes loud) voice saying “You’re no good. No one will like it. You are wasting your time. You charge too much. You’ll never make it. You’re too late. It’s just glorified wallpaper. How does this help anyone? It’s not meaningful work. It’s worthless. Who cares anyway? Why bother?”


And you stop painting for a while. For days, for weeks.

And then one day you pick up a brush again and keep trying…

I’ll paint again next week.

XX Barbie