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Learning Espanol and Making Art

Rusty Disc

Rusty Disc

Over the past two years I have made a concentrated effort to learn Spanish. It’s not easy and I commiserate with immigrants attempting to learn English. I could wish for some sort of magic to occur and wake up one morning fully fluent in Spanish and giving Michealangelo a run for his money.


But I think I’ve made some progress. And it occurred to me that perhaps I’m applying the same process to my art. Although my accent isn’t quite right, my grammar sometimes—no make that frequently— not correct, my vocabulary so limited I use funny words, i.e. ‘all your ears’ instead of ‘both ears’, patients and their families are impressed. And judging from the response of my first art show this past weekend, art patrons and fellow artists are pleased.


To Learn and Improve my Spanish I did the following:


  1. Studied and took classes from experts.
  2. Take every chance I can to speak it, the cleaning folks, the kitchen people, my yard man, the bus driver. They are always delighted when I ask them a question in Spanish.
  3. Watch Spanish soaps on television when I get a chance. The noviellas are really fun! I tried the news but that was pretty depressing.
  4. Go to church services conducted in Spanish and read in my Spanish Bible.
  5. I’m not afraid to sound stupid when I speak it.
  6. Practice conversations in my head while driving to work.
  7. I’m not afraid to ask ‘how did I do’ when a translator is present.


If I translate that to art:

  1. I have the luxury of Houston quilt festival being readily accessible; however, I’ve also taken classes in other media.
  2. Look at art every chance I can, regardless of media and particularly non-fiber.
  3. Read biographies of artists, subscribe to painting forums, go to lectures.
  4. Go to openings and quiz the artist (nicely) about techniques and processes.
  5. I participated in an art sale/show this past weekend. (this was a huge step for me)
  6. I look. And look again—at my surroundings—and translate it into colors or shapes.
  7. I send work to juried shows.


Probably the most important aspect is not being afraid to try.  I am clearly not expert in either arena but I see slow but steady progress. Moving forward and improving only happens with work and a lot of it. While I am waiting for the magical fairy to dust me with instant skill –she must be busy with other artists and people who need to speak Spanish more than do I— I need to keep working.

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