My artistic journey began behind a door. Apprehensively, I knocked. I looked up at the small square window of glass. A smiling pixie face crowned in golden tendrils peered down at me, like an ancient fairy guarding the entrance to a secret treasure-trove. Her blue eyes twinkled. Her lips curled up in a faint smile. She opened the door.
She was my art teacher. She opened the door that day not just to the art room but to an entire new world. A world I had previously appreciated from afar, but one to which I was a foreigner, trying to speak to the natives with a clumsy tongue. She taught me that anyone could learn the language of the land. Then she taught me the alphabet of her world’s strange and enchanting language: the language of fairies and dragons; of history past and time future; of the visible and the invisible world. For art is a visible expression of an invisible reality.
The teacher was Mrs. Unger. The school was Delaware County Christian School. The child was myself, age eleven. When I was bored after school one day, my mom, the school secretary, said, “Why don’t you go downstairs and see if Mrs. Unger is in her room?” So I did and thus began a journey that continues to this day. Evenings and mornings (not to mention many of the hours in between), I could be found sitting on a stool by a window in the art room. When she taught private lessons, after school hours, she let me sit at a table nearby, “working” on my own artwork. I am sure she knew in reality I was listening to everything she was teaching her paying students!
By the time I became a Junior in high school, it was a given that I would go to art school. I do not remember that I seriously considered any other options. I graduated, packed up my charcoal, sketchbook and a trunk-full of art supplies (I also took a small duffel bag of clothes) and off I went.
I hopped around for awhile, not quite able to ever find another home in the land of art. In fact, for quite sometime I deserted the land completely until the day there was a need. Some students needed an art teacher, could I teach them, maybe just fill in for awhile?
Its funny, the journey Mrs. Unger took that brought her to Delaware County Christian School began the same way, with a need. She came to the art room for a day, and after the students left, she found herself sweeping the floor, claiming her space. Or did the place claim her?
Much in the same way, I jumped in and began teaching the students at Veritas Press Scholars Academy the language I thought I had forgotten. I discovered that like Mrs. Unger, I delight in teaching students that anyone can learn the language of art. It all begins with a simple alphabet: a hand, a tree, a face. Open your eyes. Learn to see. Play. Imagine. Create. And most importantly, just when you think you have finished a piece know that you have really only just begun!
So here to new beginnings! I am excited to teach the two new art courses I designed for high school, homeschooled art students. I am looking forward to meeting a new group of students. I eagerly anticipate sharing the pleasure of their first discoveries as they embark upon a lifelong journey on a newfound shore.
I am opening the art room door. Won’t you come in?