People who know me, who have taken any of my classes or workshops, know that I enjoy teaching. I was thinking about why I do it, why prepare a new package for every class, and make sure that each class gets something new? I remembered the people who influenced me as an artist and a teacher.When I was maybe 11, my father worked for the space program and took me to meet a friend of his who was an illustrator for NASA. At that time he was working on a painting of an astronaut standing on the surface of the moon with the Lunar lander in the background. 2 years before it actually happened. As a kid just starting out in art, that was like crack for me. I knew right then what I wanted to be when I grew up, not an astronaut (i got to meet a lot of them) but the guy who did paintings of astronauts. And then there was my high school english lit teacher, Mr. Voss. Who, looking back, was the greatest teacher I ever had in my 17 years of schooling. He was fun, enthusiastic, energetic, I learned and remembered so much of what he taught. When I was 16 I meet a landscape painter in California, a nice guy with a great, loose painting style. Talked to him for only a few minutes but what he did stuck with me.
When I was hitting the zenith of my illustration carreer I rememberd these people and what they did for me (whether they knew it or not) and decided to start teaching and giving back some of what I learned over the years. I taught several different classes at Valencia Community College, one per semester. Not for the money, financially it wasn’t worth my time. But what I got from it was so much more. I had to think about how to communicate what I inherently knew in an interesting and engaging way. I’m pretty sure I got more out of it than my students.
There are a lot of rewards that come from it, that make it worthwhile. I like people, I’m highly social personality type. I love to make people laugh, like having fun but mostly I like helping someone along a little. I still have students from 5 and 10 years ago that I stay in touch with, who want to show me what they’ve been up to. 2 years ago I went to visit a college buddy who had kids a little later in life, he has two beautiful children and the girl, Gianna was sorta interested in art. So when I went down there I took my easel and my paints and Gianna and I sat down and did some painting together. I’ve seen them only a few times since. Just visiting. No art. and this week in the mail I get the above drawing with a very sweet note from Gianna. Now I’m not claiming responsiblity for her budding drawing skills, but I do hope that maybe in some way I gave her a bit of a motivation to give it a shot as the others did for me when I was her age. Now that’s what I call a reward.