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Dmitry Grudsky: Art • Jan’s Art Studios, Fremont, CA This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

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Even though I've been studying under you for almost five years, I still don't really know what sort of person you are. Here are some dumb questions, for example. Do you like cheese? What's your favorite animal? Are you allergic to anything? These answers don't really define a person's personality. They're just meaningless gabble used to mask the fact that you don't know the person. Nevertheless, through years of devoted practice and the studying of art masters, you've opened our eyes. You have peeled the layers of paint back to show the raw secrets to success, revealing the perspective of a grand masterpiece, offering your knowledge on what hues should be used to complement the foreground. Maybe the flourish of your skilled hand and your sharp imagination best symbolize who you are.

To me and my classmates, you are gentle and sensitive, tall and quietly humorous, but we sense an abstract entity when you paint or draw, squinting your eyes or taking off your glasses in a careful dance between artist and paper. You hold the paper at different angles and distances, perhaps measuring how the main object looks within the blunt edges of the white paper or canvas. It is this swift expertise that astounds us, leaves us whispering in awe, “How did he do that?” You do not follow the paths of a million other artists, creating dramatic landscapes and portraits of animals. No, you look for the elegance in mini cupcakes bought at the local supermarket, the glory in a pair of rainbow sneakers, the secret expression in an otherwise expressionless face.

The blank white paper. The blank white paper. The blank white paper. It is monotonous and droning, an annoying dullness like the hum of a pesky mosquito. A student's brain is burning and shriveling, desperately looking for an idea for a drawing. “Here, paint this,” you say, whipping out a bronze statue or a dying autumn leaf. You transform our inability to think of something creative into imagination that flourishes and evolves into a work of art. A simple object on the black table inside Jan's Art Studio in the state of California on the planet Earth within the physical universe becomes a different reality, like cyberspace, but remains relatable and emotional to the observer. You show us what it's like to peek into a different world, a secret doorway. You show us that art is a beautiful form of self-expression and that's it's worth going to classes on a Friday night, when teens are usually relaxing in anticipation of the coming weekend.

You create a warm haven, a home, a sanctuary to escape to. The soft current of classical music filling my senses as I walk through the door is as good as the drifting smell of sweet pastries baking in a kitchen. The heater is whirring comfortably and the “OPEN” sign flashes bright neon against the cold darkness outside. Maybe you didn't put the smell of musky art supplies there on purpose, or the texture of the frayed blue carpet either. But it's these little familiar details that cause me to think of the art studio as my second home. I look forward to the exciting conversations the class may have as we work, like sharing our opinions on recent politics, or maybe movies we liked, or the new gallery opening in town.

I've been drawing since I was six. Eight years is a long time relative to my life span. I've had many instructors in Canada and the U.S. However, the difference between you and my other instructors is there is not one day in these five years in which I haven't looked forward to your class on Friday. The difference is, the mix of your personality and teaching skills in fine art have visibly created shocking improvements in my art skills, and on top of everything have given me a great childhood to look back on. I thank you for that.

This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.




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