Learning Takes Time

Learning Takes Time


“How long will it take for my child to learn to draw or paint?” This is one of the most common questions that parents express concerning art classes. The same question is asked about piano: “How long will it take my child to learn to play piano?” Parents of children learning to play piano wonder how long their child will be playing “Two Tigers” or when they will play a more advanced piece such as Chopin’s “Grand Valse Brillante”. The answer to both is fairly self-evident upon comparison.

Learning should be an artist's technique in work and attitude in life. Even more so, learning itself is the path that leads to art. Often, when we hold an artist's temperament in high regard, we fail to see the artist’s calmness and elegance that is a result of his or her understanding that art requires studying and time, with no corner-cutting or process-rushing. An exchange of time for experience and consistent personal exposure time and time again is the only way to turn hard-earned experience into a learnt art. Every art skill requires long-term practice and self-transcendence; there is no fast track or shortcut to attaining a level of mastery. Artists must invest their lives in this long-distance path. Artists know that there is no end to art. This world is immensely goal-oriented, but the same is not true of art. Artists can concentrate in the moment on their artwork, and enter a world of joy.

So regardless whether you are learning art or the art of learning, we want to establish the unique value of art on a person's personality, allowing cultivation of an artist whose attitude in life is one that allows for focusing on the beauty in every situation, with nowhere to rush to and no imposing goal to achieve.  In this goal-oriented world, the purpose of art education is not to focus on financial gain, but to wholly focus on the activity of art itself, and live in the moment.



Figure 1.

First grade - Lion Dance



Figure 2.

Fourth grade - Redrawing of Edouard Manet’s Luncheon on the Grass


Therefore, completing a painting or drawing masterfully, achieving high marks and praise in art class, and even winning art competitions is no indication or measure of artistic skill or aptitude. Instead, one who creates art without pen, paper, or other materials, and works in a relaxed manner without a strict schedule or set time is an example of a true artist. This is the ultimate goal for children taking art classes.



Figure 3.

Sixth grade - White Rabbit by ZheYi Liao


We can look to ZheYi Liao as an example of a child who loves to paint. He has been learning for seven years, without omitting or skipping steps, and took every step of the way by himself. In Figure 1, done at age six, the shape, color, and material application make the artwork feel incomplete, which is understandable as he is still experimenting in a hands-on approach. Only three years later, in Figure 2, however, the color-coordination is well done and composition is very unique. The artwork in Figure 3 is executed very artistically. But the most valuable result is that this child has developed an artist's dexterity and unique qualities, almost certainly influenced by his parents unwavering support and encouragement.

In this game called life, joy does not come only to those who identify as artists. However, at every stage in childhood, a child, too, can experience the joy of becoming an artist in life.

So do not ask the question of “How long will it take to learn art?” I can guarantee that it will be a slow process because even teachers are never done learning.