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Writing Group
My Favorite Teacher


            I remember nearly every teacher I ever had. In kindergarten, Mrs. Goodwin. First grade was Mrs. Hill, Second, Third, Fourth was Mrs. Jacobs. Then there was Ponca City. At Garfield and Roosevelt, I had Mrs. Skillern, Mrs. Fordyes, Mrs. Beaver, Mrs. Tracey, Mrs. Harrod, Mrs. Crawford, Mrs. Maine.

           At Tonkawa I had Mrs. Sadowsky, The English teacher who didn't believe I read Hamlet, can't remember his name, Mrs. Strange in college.

           At Chilocco I had Mrs. Dyer, Mrs. Hayman, Mr. Adams, Mr. Dee Gregory, Mr. Henderson. House Mothers were Mrs. Werneke, Mrs McMahon, Mrs. Means, Mrs. Robinson.

           At Ark City I remember Mr. Magg, and Mr. Johnson, but there was a music teacher and an Rhetoric teacher I can't remember.

           Then there are the artist's with whom I've studied in seminars and other wise. Of those I remember John Howard Sanden the most. He was awesome. His portrait painting was so marvelous and beautiful. He painted heads of state and presidents of corporations and commanded $30,000. Dollars for a portrait.

            The greatest teachers I ever had though were the old master's.  In order to come under their instruction since, of course, they are no longer living, it is necessary to do a detailed study of their work by reproducing it for yourself. This may sound less than a great way to learn but in actuality it is a remarkable learning method.

            I  begin my work at the upper left of the canvas. This is after I had worked to learn the master's pallette. Each artist uses a different color structure. Corot used yellow ochre in everything as a mother color, and I hope I remember this correctly. Certainly an earth color is used for this. If the mother color is not in the mix of colors it jumps out from the canvas like a red light would. Working down at an angle I was careful not to take on more than maybe a quarter of an inch at a time.

           Corot only stippled his work, pressing into the canvas with a direct dotting not ever to lay his brush flat in strokes. If you one time do not do this the whole work is lost.

           Utrillo sloshed his oil medium on the total pallette until all the colors were swimming together. The lines on his work were all very blended and soft. It took me forever to figure out he was sitting on the floor jabbing up into the canvas with his brush. There being so much medium on the canvas caused the lines to flow into it and soften out to a delicate soft edge.

           I never tired of  learning about the artists and their work. It gave me an uncanny communication with them and I felt like I had been in their studios to make their acquaintances.

           Picasso, I had a real hard time with him. But it was when I began to do some writing that I began to adore him as a person. He was so passionate with his work and I was a bit like him when I was young. The sinking totally into the world of painting is the greatest of feelings. There is nothing, and I repeat, nothing like it. All the cliches about becoming one with the world all at once has meaning. Even a simple still life takes on a personality to speak hidden emotions, all at once, brought out there on a canvas.

        The thing I admired about Picasso was that he was able to be a business man as well. His estate was said to be three hundred million dollars when he died. Some how he was able to do the politics and socializing necessary to sell his work. The great problem he had was that he couldn't do it all. He couldn't give enough time to his family to keep them, and that was sad.  But then, this is a lesson too, isn't it?

         So, all in all, who was my favorite teacher?  I can't really say. I admired Corot, felt sorry for Utrillo, and fell in love with Picasso. Really I believe teachers are a bit like a wonderful smorgasbord. We take a bit of this and a little of that, and a small piece of that. Each food has its own special flavor. It is like that with teachers. We learn something different from each and every one of them.


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