Or in a more general form art phobia. I have this problem. I dont mean I am scared of art, but at the thought that I have to be involved in art, my brain just shuts down. Even in this era when computers and multimedia can encourage even people who have no ‘natural talent’ for drawing to engage in some kind of artistic work, I simply cannot do anything.
I think this terror of art was built in childhood. I dont have any natural talent for drawing and my first efforts in drawing and coloring were probably most untidy. I remember being told in no uncertain words, that they were no good. I dont seek praise for work which is clearly not great, but perhaps the harsh negative judgment could have been tempered a bit. I mean I must have been a child of five or six.
Those judgments have ensured that I never warmed to art at all. In school, on the days when we had drawing classes I always prayed that I would fall sick and would not have to go. I may even have pretended to be sick ocassionally.
I remember, while doing one of my post graduate courses, we were discussing about different pedagogies to train social workers and one of the class participants remarked that using different media like art would liberate trainees. My first response was art as a subject can be as scary to a person as maths and science. It is not the subject itself which constrains or creates fear but the negative experiences which a person has had with the subject. I was lucky that in no other subject did I develop such a negative feeling about myself. Although naturally Ihave liked certain subjects more than others, I never detested any of the ‘mainstream subjects’. In a way, I was lucky that my phobia was towards an additional subject like art, and I could go through school constantly getting a D in drawing without it really affecting my other grades. I probably lost a few marks for untidy practical records. Yeah, my biology grades did suffer a bit, but my natural liking for the subject compensated for my absolute inability to draw a diagram.
Many others may not be so lucky. They may develop fears for more mainstream subjects, for maths, for writing, for languages. And their school lives will be forever marred by those fears.
I dont mean to say negative judgments should never be passed against children. Children need to learn to deal with negative judgments just like they need to deal with so many other challenges in their lives. But tempering the judgment with an appreciation for effort, with honest feedback on scope for improvement and most important of all, not making comparisons with other people’s work, isn’t it possible to achieve this.
I may probably have been bad at art any which ways. I don’t say the world has lost a Picasso, because I lost interest in the subject. But I know my school days would have been happier. And I lost whatever satisfaction I could have drawn from my art, however bad it would have been.