Dad used to love to
joke with my sister and me about our qualifications for this or that. If
we discussed some medical problem, he might comment, “Say, now! You girls
are Doctors.” Or if was a legal problem, he would laugh, “Well, well!
You, two are lawyers.”
This is about the
way I felt as I was attempting to teach art. I had no qualification or
license to teach anything. Never in my life did I ever have the desire to
teach. For a brief time an apartment was shared with a teacher. There
were no illusions as far as how much work was involved. Not that I wanted
to shirk any responsibility, there just wasn't a feeling of dedication on
However, when my
next door neighbor asked me to teach her child art, there was no
hesitation on my part. The child had a slight disability with her vision.
The girl was held back because she wasn't making enough progress to go on
to first grade. My heart went out to this child with an angel face and
trusting eyes. In my knowledge of art there was no question in my mind
what had to be done.
With a careful
explanation the mother was enlightened about what would be involved with
the child learning art.
“You see. The
alphabet was first art. The letters stood for a picture of something. As
time has moved along, these pictures have become symbols. By teaching
Angie these basic principles eventually this will all merge together in
her mind and she will be able to learn easily.”
The child was
bright and meticulous to a fault. I couldn't imagine how she had suffered
to learn in a classroom when she probably didn't have time to thoroughly
complete her work.
When we began with
colors it was after I had taught her to see light and dark. “See. This is
the color of sunshine.” I caught her attention with yellow paint added
to her pallette. The yellow on the curves of an object became light
striking that shape. She was enthralled at the thought of the sun coming
down to a place on a duck's back, or on a petal of one flower while the
other's were in shadow.
I could see the
hesitant, slow, manner slowly slipping away to be replaced with a new
interest in what was around her. Some days we only painted the light. It
might be on one side of a tree trunk, on a group of leaves in a tree, or
just a patch on the lawn. She painted the light and then with a pencil
sketched in the shadows.
was changing too. The friend she brought with her before had been the
leader who insisted on her way all the time. Now Angie was questioning
what her friend did and said. This brought me joy. Thinking after all is
what can protect. The problem to surface was the friend didn't want to
give up her position and there was a struggle for a while. Not for long
though. Angie stood her ground and she was fortunate to have an
understanding mother in her corner.
When school started
the next year Angie was put back in Kindergarten again but she didn't stay
“I don't know what
you have done with this child during the summer. She is ready to go to
first grade. It would be a shame to hold her back.” The surprised teacher
told the mother.
Not too long after
that we moved from Dallas back to Oklahoma. I often wonder what happened
to my little Angie who gave me the courage to open a small studio where I
was able to take a hand-picked group of ladies who wanted to learn art.
This was around 1972.
For the ladies I
know their achievements. One went to college, got a degree in art and was
qualified, certified and licensed to teach. Another lady went on to
illustrate a children's book. Yet another became a skilled successful
artist who dedicated her means and skills to the art world. Her works hang
in many fine surroundings since she has become quite well known.
I feel this isn't
too shabby a record for someone who knows totally, thoroughly, nothing
about teaching. If there is another life, another time, another place,
when I am youthful again without the stress and heaviness of age upon me,
please Lord, let me be a teacher? I feel I could be dedicated the next