The Real Thing

A teacher’s dream is to instill fire and passion in his students. Sometimes you never know if it took or not until years later. For example, thirty years ago I taught a talented young boy in elementary school who I just learned last year is a very successful painter. He doesn’t remember me much, but I remember letting him do most anything he wanted in the art room. My job was to keep out of his way and give him whatever materials and encouragement I could. Just like my parents did for me when I was young.

Then sometimes, you see it happen before your eyes.

Since our trip to Cleveland two weeks ago, I was tickled when Grif told me he was going back to the Utrech Art Supply in Cleveland for more materials on his own. That Saturday a text came asking if I wanted anything. On the way home I got a text reading, “Got some powdered marble and some cool things to play with. LOL.” Eureka! Pretty soon he’ll be painting as much as he plays video games.

Having been smitten by Rembrandt, the dream continues as we start painting portraits. I’ve managed to draft a friend or two as well as find a willing body on Craigslist so we can have live humans for models. The difference is like that of painting a landscape from a photo or en plain air. Real trees, hills, sky and water in front of you give you so much more information to assimilate just as real faces, arms and legs tell stories lost in photos. And the proof was in tracking Grif’s improvement in being able to create skin tones in a few lessons. To quote Marvin Gaye and Tammy Terrel, “Ain’t Nothin’ Like the Real Thing.”

As for real things, next post will start to reveal the plans for our summer in France. It’s gonna be delicious.

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