Art and Teaching


I sometimes joke that my love of art began while playing Masterpiece, the art auction board game. But, that was purely superficial. My lifelong deep appreciation for art came from my art teacher. I actually had two art teachers, a husband and wife, Mr. and Mrs. S. She taught 7th and 8th grade art and he taught 9th-12th. Since our entire class took art in 7th & 8th grade, her classes were larger and much more basic. She was a good teacher and I liked her, but her husband was a great teacher, a master teacher and I loved him. Not only did I learn a lot about art from him, but I also learned about teaching and humanity.

He was a preternaturally calm teacher, steering his way through life on such an even keel that even a hurricane could not twist him about. He may have grown up on a farm and taught in a small farming town and lived on a farm himself, but he brought an urbane sophistication to life – sharing with us his appreciation of modern culture, music, books, movies and artists that were often unheard of. He was active in the community, persuading the town council to fund a city-owned art gallery that brought art into our town. Imagine a town of 1400 people with an arts center with revolving exhibitions, musical theatre,  art classes, writing workshops, music lessons and even a recording studio all funded by the city and the grants that he helped pursue. During these years of retrenchment and austerity, that such a small town continues to support the arts – well, if only there were more teachers like him in towns across America.


Intrigue Co has a fun little watercolor pose prop for the budding watercolorists of Second Life – a fitting contribution to the watercolor theme for April’s Collabor88. It even comes with framed and ready to hang copies of the finished work. I didn’t actually use the poses because they are made for painting on the floor or in the grass, not on an artist’s work table, but since I just moved and put in a place to paint in a corner of my kitchen, I decided to use it there.

The thing about Mr. S was that he encouraged us to draw outside the lines, but not just on paper. As he saw it, the rules were there as a guide – to make sure we rubbed along comfortably in life, but that they were not a limit. That when it made sense and it was worth it, it was okay to break the rules and  that sometimes the rules needed to be broken. Civil disobedience was, in his eyes, was drawing outside the lines to realize a better world just as drawing outside the lines often realizes a better painting.


The Secret Store has outdone itself this month, offering a top that comes cropped or long and a skirt with a hud-contolled lace overskirt offering your choice of white, black or self-colored lace.

What he taught me about teaching is that great teachers not only expose their students to their subjects, but they also teach about life, exposing their own choices and decisions and quandaries. When he was working on his own art, sometimes he would bring it into class and walk us through this decision he was trying to make – should he do x, y or z and what would that mean. What would the viewer get from the work, depending on the choice he made. Then we would discuss it and often he listened to our opinion. If he didn’t, he explained his choice. When his wife was pregnant with their first child, he shared his fears of becoming a parent, of not being able to travel as often or as easily, of the limits they would have to accept for the next two decades and how in the end, they want to make that exchange because having children is worth it. I do not think it is a coincidence that no one in my graduating class got pregnant in high school.


The flats are from Ingenue. Here you can see the rest of my kitchen, including the lovely flourishes I picked up at The Liaison Collaborative this month.

Mr. S. taught us that we contain multitudes. “Do I contradict myself? Very well, then I contradict myself, I am large, I contain multitudes.” Walt Whitman’s lines from Song of Myself seem perfect for him.  There he was, this sophisticated teacher, friends with Terry Gilliam, his own art exhibited around the country. And there he also was, the farmer with mules, even, and his Irish Wolfhounds, hunting, fishing and farming like the rest of us rural folk. He also organized the local AFS chapter that sponsored foreign exchange students every year, bringing people from around the world into our school. He made it clear that being a small town country farmer did not require us to be ignorant, xenophobic or uncultured.  Of course, growing up in that community with other like-minded people who also thought elite aspirations and cultural awareness were positive things, I had no idea that we rural folk were expected to be ignorant.


Truth offers a gorgeous hair style for Collabor88 – full of spring romanticism. The Glam Affair skin is soft and romantic like watercolors as well.

Thanks to him, I was able to exhibit in two national shows of high school art and win a full scholarship to the Chicago Institute of Art. I chose to pursue my other interest, politics, rather than art, and passed up the scholarship. I often wonder what my life would have been like if I had gone the other way. It was a tough decision to make and I think I made the right one, but I am always curious about where that other path may have lead.

I learned this week that Mr. S died this winter, far too early. Although I have not seen or talked to him in years, the world still feels a little smaller and less brilliant knowing he has left it. However, he left a lasting legacy, teaching hundreds of young people about art and even more importantly about life.
Store info at Blogging Second Life


  • Poses: aDorkable
  • Skin: -Glam Affair – Aria – Artic 08 E @ Collabor88
  • Eyes: [UMEBOSHI] Eon eyes Duo Green (med)
  • Lashes: Lelutka
  • Mani/Pedi: SLink Mesh Hands & Feet with FLAIR mani applier
  • Hair: TRUTH HAIR April @ Collabor88
  • Clothing: The Secret Store – Amy Highwaist Skirt – Cherry @ Collabor88
  • The Secret Store – Betsy Halter tank/Cropped – Red Polka @ Collabor88
  • Shoes: Ingenue :: Lily Flats (Slink Feet Add-On) :: Ruby @ Collabor88
  • Jewelry: (Yummy) Work Pearls Necklace and Studs – White from March Collabor88
  • Location:
  • Intrigue Co. – Watercolor Painting: Cat @ Collabor88
  • [ Organica ] Hanging Bamboo Herb Planter
  • apple fall – AF Artists Desk, AF His Sideboard RARE * 2, AF Canvas Rack (Painted), {af} Hans A. Wegner Inspired Wishbone {Ocean}, {sa} Sweetheart Table & Chairs (Cream)
  • Zaara [home] : Ikat dhurrie rug *multi*
  • Dutchie Vintage Kitchen
  • floorplan. kitsch wall plates
  • Second Spaces – Minouveau art cutouts – dk blue TLC
  • XD Potted Blue Crocus (mesh) (Marketplace)
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