I was contacted by a friend from high school several months ago. She had become an art teacher for Arlington High school in our hometown of Riverside. She wondered if I would be open to talking to her art students about my work. It sounded like a great opportunity to inspire a some kids to go after their dreams and live a life they love. I had lived the prescribed plan: get good grades, go to college, get a good job and at the end of it I found that it didn’t make me happy. I wanted to show these art students that there is another way of living.
“I wanted to show these art students that there is another way of living.”
With that in mind, I prepared my presentation. I also offered to do a small 5×7 painting as a demonstration for the last half of each class. We hid a raffle ticket under a chair for each period and at the end of class a lucky winner got to take the painting home.
They joined all the art classes from each period for a total of around 90 kids each class and I gave my presentation 6 times in a row. It sure gave me a new appreciation for the work teachers do. Its hard work standing up there talking for so long. Since I would be speaking to over 500 kids I knew most of them would probably not go on to be artists. I wanted to give them a message that they would all have the opportunity to benefit from.
In each class I told them my story of going through school, and selecting a job based only on a single consideration. Money. It didn’t end up equaling happiness and the Universe soon gave me an abrupt course correction.
“The Universe soon gave me an abrupt course correction.”
I severely injured myself in rock climbing accident in May of 2011. Dealing with a huge amount of pain made me realize that spending 80% of my time either driving or doing something I didn’t enjoy didn’t make sense. The plus side to be sidelined from all of my usual activities (Surfing, Rock Climbing, Mountain Biking) was that I could just focus on creating a lot of art.
In the 4 years since then I’ve made over 60 Paintings and gotten so much better as an artist. I showed them the collection of my work that I had in March of 2011.
I told the kids about my motto:
DREAM. FAIL. SUCCEED. REPEAT.
Failure was ok and just apart of the process of becoming successful. Every painting I made I consider a practice painting. I can always make another one if it I mess it up. I really started to develop my style once I let go of expectations and just allowed myself to have fun with what I was doing. There was no pressure, it was just for fun anyway.
I described to the kids how I slowly built my confidence and skill. Starting at art walks and moving up to gallery shows from there. In the end it doesn’t matter if they want to be a veterinarian, own a soap making business, or be an artist. If they follow their bliss and do what they love the joy they can experience is worth more than all the gold in the world.
During the presentations only a few kids asked questions but many of them made comments on my instagram later saying that I had given them new ideas about how they could do what they love to earn a living. It was an amazing and truly rewarding experience. I hope to have the opportunity to teach again soon. Even the teachers wrote me an email describing that the message kids almost universally got from my presentation was to do what you love. I am so grateful that the students heard my message and I hope that many of them will be inspired to go after their dreams whatever they may be.
Below is a picture of my friend Mrs. Lee and I and a few shots of the presentations and paintings I gave away to the students.