Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Mr Lewis

Many many many moons ago I was a student at Lambton High School in NSW and I had Mr Lewis for Art. I was in year 7 and it was 1980. High school was big and noisy and the buildings were brick. The central quadrangle was very... concrete. There was a fantastic big oval, and a lawn area out the front, but my friends and I hung out near a stairwell in the quadrangle. Sort of in a corner. Mr Hook was the Vice Principal and there were a whole range of fantastic teachers including Mr Wood for woodwork and Mr Steel for metalwork (not kidding!)... 
I remember drawing with Mr Lewis, with an emphasis on both exploring and building technical skill. I had no confidence in my ability despite great marks and having work in the school exhibition. I had no idea what I wanted to do when I grew up - school was about maths and english and geography. Art was for people that were talented and that wasn't me.
Skip forward a couple of years... I have a particularly strong memory of Mr Lewis approaching me in the quadrangle. It was 1982, I was in year 9 and he was asking me why I wasn't doing Art as one of my electives. I told him I wasn't any good at it, which he argued against - but I insisted I wasn't and that he was mistaking me for Leanne. He maintained his opinion but so did I. 
I didn't think about that conversation again for a long time, but in my twenties I started to paint, and did some drawing classes. In time I wound up at Art School, and towards the end of my undergrad won a small scholarship to study in Washington DC. My USA semester was twenty years ago this year, and now with a Masters of Fine Art under my belt, and twenty years of exhibiting I almost feel like I have the right to call myself an artist.
This year I've been teaching private tutored drawing groups in the vibrant and lovely surrounds of Castlemaine. I have been reflecting on my own teachers and wishing I could tell Mr Lewis he was right!!! I am grateful for the wonderful grounding I had, even if I didn't realise at the time. So far I haven't been able to find Mr Lewis, but I will do my best to encourage others in their ability to draw!