Yesterday was graduation day on campus. I have to admit every year, every time the president announces that the students can turn the tassel to the left side of their cap, tears come for me (fortunately, this does not turn into an all out sobbing. I can be a bit weepy).  I know I will no longer be a part of their lives in the same way I was before. Our relationship changes at that moment. It is time to let go…though we will still be connected.  There will be the requests for recommendation letters to grad school or we will become Facebook friends in these current times or I might even be invited to their wedding.  But we will not spend the same amount of time together. And I will not be there for them if they need me.  Like a parent, it is tough to say goodbye but it is time.  This year, I wrote up some thoughts on what I have learned along the way to share for the journey ahead.

Professor G’s Art Life Advice – Twenty-Four Lessons

  1. Listen to God.  “Be strong and courageous (Joshua 1:1). By the way, if you do not like this first one, go to number nine.
  2. Live cheaply – have as little debt as possible.
  3. Paint the House of Parliament when you go to London – it’s an artist thing (ex, Monet, Turner).
  4. Your relationships should make life brighter not darker (Certainly, we should not expect perfect days and moments all the time with the people in our lives. It is not going to happen but there are those who seem to believe their purpose in life is to make others miserable.  Limit your time with those who drain your energy as much as possible so you can work at your gift).
  5. Life can change on a dime. Your plans can disappear quickly and completely. God may decide your purpose is to be served in a different way.
  6. Do not let rejection defeat you. Move forward from it.  Move ahead with new ideas.
  7. You will be rejected 80-90% of the time so get used to it. Do remember that with every rejection, you are a step closer to acceptance.
  8. Follow your passion but do it without hurting others.  You are better than that.
  9. Realize not everyone may agree with you. You will never agree with anyone 100 percent either.  Be firm in what you believe yet show respect for others even with these differences.
  10. Show love for others.  – “Love your neighbor as yourself” (Mark 12:31) and “Love your enemies (Matthew 5:44).”
  11. The above “neighbor” verse reminds us to take care of ourselves, which means saying “no” at times to do so, and that’s ok.
  12. Think long term, not short term (that summer job or two week volunteer opportunity may lead you to future work).
  13. See Leonardo’s “Last Supper” in Milan – yes, I know you have seen multiple reproductions and you think you “know it” but the real painting has a presence impossible to express. It must be visited.
  14. When you see the “Last Supper” you will probably have a guide who will use half of the allotted fifteen minutes to talk about the mural on the opposite wall. It is a good painting but you must be rude. Walk to Leonardo’s work, really look at it and stay there until you are called to leave. This is one of the few times I recommend being impolite.  But I think it is impolite for a tour to think that I came to see the painting across from the Leonardo.
  15. It is good if your art speaks with strength in a multitude of light settings, and both distant and close-up.
  16. Spend time outside, taking in nature everyday. There is much to be inspired by here.
  17. The art museum is your library with lessons from many teachers. Visit, study, “read” the artworks regularly.
  18. Read about what interests you. Know the subjects you paint, draw, sculpt, photograph, etc. You will be able to be more creative.
  19. Just because you have graduated does not mean you do not have to write anymore. I am sorry to disappoint you. You will have to…for applications, advocacy essays, papers for publications, artist statements, etc.  Work on this daily by reading and writing.
  20. Continue learning and exploring and being curious.  Try to do something new everyday.  You do not want to get moldy and stagnate like the food items you forget about in the back of your refrigerator. Then you smell bad.
  21. Outnumber the negatives with positives.  Do more good than bad.
  22. Travel.
  23. Work; do not be lazy. A postcard on my office door speaks to this:Image
  24. Have a sense of humor (This is another card on my door. My brother and his wife gave this to me a couple years ago. It still makes me smile).ImageAlmost forgot, do make art everyday…and go zip lining in a rainforest, it gives you a fresh visual perspective…and see Sainte Chapelle in Paris, the colors are incredible…there is so much more to say. Sigh.
  25. Go find your own life lessons list to make.

2 thoughts on “Professor G’s Art Life Advice for Graduates – Twenty-Four Lessons

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