I had this teacher at Sheridan College, back in the 80s, who would teach us a design class as part of the Classical Animation program. He was the text book version of uncool. Not like the fun, goofy other teachers who would show us cartoons in class and make us laugh and try to win us over with comedy. No this guy was a hard ass – all business and hard truths about art. He was trying to teach us that there is structure in the world for a reason and when you learn that structure, then you have license to fuck with it. Like jazz. But with crayons.
At the time I remember hating him more than I can say. His style of teaching was boring and dry. He would often talk over our heads with lofty concepts and angry art rants and would seemingly be wasting our time. Oh the impatience of youth.
One day he requested a drawing from us that required some degree of interest. I can’t remember what I drew but it was all rigid lines and angles. When I showed it to him he asked: “Do you think a straight line is interesting?”
I had never given it any thought.
“If you think a straight line is interesting you’re very boring.”
I had thought about punching him in the face at that moment.
“Go watch The Dot and The Line by Chuck Jones and then tell me if a straight line is interesting.”
It’s possibly the greatest lesson in art I’ve ever got. So much so, his is the only definitive moment I can recall in any class in the three years I was there. Sure I remember my lessons and the results but that moment will always be front and centre, especially when I pick up a pencil to draw.
I’m mad that I spent most of his class in a teen-age apathetic funk. I’d give anything to time-travel back to my old self and tell myself to stop being such an idiot and listen.