Thriving in Georgia Art Class

"I used to think art classes were boring."

My name is Jane and I’m an exchange student from Thailand living in Georgia. I used to think art classes at school were boring. Most of the time in Thailand, the teachers walk into classes and say “Alright, students, get your books out.” And then we study about whatever is in the book.

When it’s time to finally create something, our ideas are drained from all the studying, not to mention homework from other subjects. Do you know we study over 10 subjects per week? Anyway, I’m not saying my country’s way of studying is bad, it’s good to know a lot of things, but sometimes it’s tiring. Things will get more interesting once we’re in college.

But here, in the U.S., art classes are very enjoyable. A bit of study about basic things such as elements of art and principles of design and you’re good to go! The teachers tell you what the requirements are and you’re free to paint whatever you like and use any mediums you want.

Sometimes we have to write essays. I had to write an art critique for a test. For other Thai people, if it’s in Thai, it’s easier since we can add some words to make it longer and look like it has something to it, or even makes it looks professional when it’s actually just amateur writing.

But in English, we have to have a way with words. Reading novels in English is a big help. I don’t have problems with art critique essays, because I usually read short novels in English. I find it easier to express feelings in English.

The problem is that in the last paragraph I have to write a “judgment.” This is writing my own opinion about the artwork and if it’s successful in conveying messages and/or expressing the artist’s emotions.

When I submitted the essay, the teacher read and said nothing, so I’m pretty sure I survived it.

Now, I think it’s the right time for me to quote my favorite band: as Tuomas Holopainen, the founder, leader, keyboardist, and songwriter of a symphonic metal band called Nightwish once wrote, “Write a lyric for the song only you can understand,” which you can hear in their song, "Élan."

As we all know, art is subjective, which makes it hard for me to write the “judgment” paragraph without thinking that I, a small amateur artist, am judging the artwork of one of the greatest artists of all time. So, I decided to not judge their art but instead wrote down what the artwork taught me, and what it’s conveying. When I submitted the essay, the teacher read and said nothing, so I’m pretty sure I survived it.

To make art, you don’t want to forget the requirements for each piece, as it’ll affect your grade. I am careful not to use too many neutral colors and not to draw something too small. It’s also important to have fun doing art and experimenting with mediums and techniques!

Jatanachai “Jane” (Thailand), hosted by the Stidam family (GA)

Exchange student from Thailand's painting in Georgia art class