The Dream of an Introductory Lecture to Painting 1 Students (about 10 years after retirement)

(This lecture began in a dream and continued into wakefulness where I could not stop giving the lecture)

“Good morning incoming painting students. My name is Mr. McGinnis. Now some of you might find that too formal a name and showing far too much respect. Those you who have such casual, haughty or arrogant opinions may call me Mr. McGinnis.”

“I am here to teach you how to be painters.” (Saying this I begin to giggle and then break into uncontrollable laughter. I then remember that is what I am being paid to do and quickly bring myself under control, wiping the tears from my eyes). “Now you might ask what painters do in this incredibly rich and diverse economy in which we live? What fine question.” (At this point three boys stumble into class obviously deeply hungover from meaningful first week orientation activities. They lean against a divider partition nearly knocking it down. I look at them with loving kindness.) “Well, I say with conviction and pride, well-trained painters often wait tables or work construction, cashiers, stock boys, fast food ‘associates’, Walmart cart collectors or work as nannies or hookers of various kinds. Yes, there is a plethora of job possibilities for the creative mind.” (I could see I should not have used the word “plethora” as many students were turning up their Ipods.) “Some painters even become teachers like me. I only eat ramen noodles three times a week while I suspect many of you have them four, five, or even six times a week.” (I stole the ramen stuff from one of my student’s recent Facebook posts — in art we now call it appropriation — god, how I do love appropriation. And note that I do not credit the source — artists are too cool to cite sources [aren’t we Jerome])

“Well, some of you might be thinking, ‘We should become hedge fund managers and make at least a million dollars a week while bringing our culture to ruin.’ I tell you, my eager-faced young ones, that is fine aspiration in life, but I can make you gods and goddesses.” (and anything in between, of course). “‘How!!!?’ You might ask. How can a lower-middle class artist from a hick town in South Dakota teach you mostly lower-middle class youngins from the Midwest to become gods and goddesses? I will tell you how. If you work very, very, very hard you will begin to create things. Things that never existed before — you will be divine. There is nothing in this suffering world that is greater than that — you become the creator. And how will this illustrious culture reward you for evolving to such heights? — it will reward you not at all unless you bend your talents to fit some tawdry market that strips nearly all creativity from you.” (The students were now looking at me with what I saw as awe, wonder, and the beginnings of devotion. They could clearly see I had made some good points — man, I do love teaching.)

“Well, enough of this fluffy philosophical stuff. Let’s get down to our first lesson — how to make a quality stretcher bar from scratch. Craftsmanship! Craftsmanship! Craftsmanship! It is the first step to becoming gods (or goddesses)!” (I go on for some time profoundly talking about lumber quality, lumber yards and the life skills needed to deal with lumber yard employees — heady and useful stuff again.) “Now I clearly realize that most of you are—“ (I almost say morons, then realize its a no no) — “you are Yahoos and won’t remember a word I have spoken. So I have made you an elaborate handout in third-grade English. (Yes, yes, it would all be online now and it is safe to call them yahoos because after thirteen or fourteen years in school they have an almost a complete lack of education. They do not know yahoo means primitive, brute-like humanoid creatures with a complete lack of education. Most will think I am referring to a nearly extinct species of search engine and they will think its cool to be called one of those. Heaven forbid I mention Jonathan Swift — it is probably the name of some neo-post-punk band. At this point I notice that the three still somewhat drunk boys in the back have been in a deep sleep for the past two hours. I admire their more constructive use of the time.)

“Our time is almost over, I know many of you are probably on your way to scamper on to the administration and complain about my insensitivity to gender, race, sexual orientation, religion, and many other issues. Please do as it is good to wake them occasionally, but understand that I will deny it all, and in a class of this size, at least thirty students, I will have a half dozen or more students mentally unstable enough to back me up. Save yourself some time and drop the class. Yes, please, please drop the class. It will eventually dwindle to about eight students anyway — my ideal class size.”

“So, class is done, bless you all, see a few of you on Wednesday — please don’t forget your materials for the stretcher bars.” (I begin to giggle again at the absurdity of my plea and then regain my composure and smile lovingly at them all as they numbly stagger from the studio. We gently leave the three young satyrs in the back of the studio, quietly slumbering and mumbling their dreams of fornication).

NOTE: While this lecture was a dream, I shamefully did say much of this to students at one time or another. It may be a blessing that poor health took me from the classroom ten years early or I would be retiring next year leaving behind even more scarred students who could have been hedge fund managers. It is a comfort to me that the human species is so rapidly shaping their own extinction. Then a relieved earth can begin with the business of evolving a truly intelligent life form. (Man, I do miss teaching.)

NOTE, NOTE: I have not had this lecture edited as in its present form it more clearly reflects the mind that created it (and I certainly never edited a lecture in my life).

Mark W. McGinnis, BS in ED., MFA
(contact me at Boise’ Walmart on Overland Street with any questions — I’ll be in the lot collecting carts)

©2014 Mark W. McGinnis (I’m going to make a bundle from this one)