A High School Class every human needs to take


Many young people come out of high school completely unprepared for life. I know I was. My folks did their best but there was so much I didn’t know how to do. I couldn’t balance a checkbook, didn’t know how to write up a proper budget, didn’t know how to add air to car tires, and a whole host of other things. Now, much of this was due to my own disinterest in most things that were useful. So again, I’m really not blaming my folks.  I went to an alternative high school and the type of class I am about to outline is something they could easily have done.

I would call the class “Life Skills.” It would cover all the little things that everyone needs to know, but few remember to teach. Here are some of the subjects it would cover:

Basic cooking and nutrition (it’s not just for Home EC students)

Basic money skills, like how bank accounts work, how checks work, how debit and credit cards work, how a credit score works

Simple automotive maintenance. How to tell when your tires are low, what to do if the check engine light comes on, how to change wipers and washer fluid. Simple stuff.

How to rent an apartment, what to expect when bills are due, reasonable expectation of cost, ways of approaching landlords if you have a problem.

Now, the list could go on and on. But it isn’t difficult to imagine a Life Skills class like this. It could cover a lot of the simple, basic things that make life so much easier – those things we may or may not get from our parents, or that we may not be receptive to when someone tries to teach us. I think our kids would be a lot better prepared for the world with a class like this. It would sure be a heck of a lot more useful than “Global Citizenship” or rot like that.

Would a class like that have been useful to you?

The Class Every Artist Should Take

I would call this class “Studio Skills” and it would be a basic prerequisite for any art program.

You see, I managed to complete a four year art degree without knowing proper brush care, how to approach a gallery if I wanted to hang my work, or the best way to handle watercolor paper!  I realize that I didn’t get a painting degree, but it was Interdisciplinary Visual Arts and as such that assumes a basic grounding in several kinds of art. A class covering basic studio skills wasn’t even offered!  Would you believe that?  In order to learn those things, I would have had to take classes in each individual type of art to learn these kinds of things.

So here is my suggested curriculum, and this would be a basic course  offered to all art students.

A good Studio Skills course would include: Brush and tool care.  How to get the most out of your brush or other art tools.  How to properly sharpen art pencils, pastels, watercolor  pencils, etc.  It can be harder than it looks.

How to prepare materials.  How to stretch canvas, tape watercolor paper, gesso surfaces, etc.  Identification of paper sizes and types.

Studio care.  Cleaning and maintaining the art space.  Basic safety regarding hazardous materials.  Use of ventilation.

Recognition of art materials.  Brush sizing, canvas sizing, and tool uses can be confusing and people need to know about it. The opportunity to try different materials to see the difference would be appropriate here.

Presentation of your work.  How to prepare it for sale or display.

Marketing and promotion.  This would include how to talk to art studios and museums, best methods of contact, dos and don’ts for contacting other artists, and publication requirements.

Put simply, no art student should graduate with an art degree without knowing something about how to present their work to best effect, and no one should be allowed to graduate if they don’t even know how to market themselves.   Keep in mind that my nationally recognized university didn’t have anything even close to this.  Studio skills might have been taught piecemeal in the individual art classes but in many cases, it was assumed that you already knew this stuff.

If someone is in a computer art program, or sculpture, or ceramics, they could have a similar basic skills course. Much of it is universal to all artists. In fact, a basic skills course would be good to have in any field of study – too much basic knowledge is assumed by teachers and sometimes never acquired.

Want to try the materials I use?  Check out Dick Blick.com!