So, the art teacher.

You would think that a private school, where schools fees consisted of $30,000+ a year, would have an art teacher who is dressed like million dollars and painted pictures that should be shown at the national museum, don’t you? Our art teacher was different.

He wore anything, because he knew that his oil paint would stain easily. He did not do his hair because he was not intending to be an art model for his students. And he used to paint these scary oil paint using all these murky dark colours….. which apparently, according to his mumbling statement, sold at high price; ” I don’t know what people sees in this, but it sold… for some reason, I am grateful, nonetheless ” he said, scratching his jaw.

He had this oil painting in working progress in the corner of our art class. It was almost a wall to wall canvas, in that usual dark colour; and it showed a person with a very large head standing on top of a stair case and looking down into space, aimless and seemingly lost. I did not quite understand the message of this painting until much later on in my life. But that was the sort of drawing which would have been considered controversial in an elite producing school like the one we went. “Yes, well, I am slightly concerned about the way the world is going,” he said, when approached by a student regarding its interpretation.

He told us to chose an image we each wanted to paint. That was my first oil painting, and I chose to paint two lions in the wild, lying down, facing in the same direction. “My teacher, ” said my teacher to me. “You certainly like to challenge, don’t you?” He said, gazing into the blank canvas then the image I brought to the class. “Hm, however I like challenge.” He returned the image to my hand and he moved on to the next student to speak in a similar tone. “Well my master, how are you going to surprise me?”

He used to let us just paint. And whenever we thought we made it pretty, he would appear beside us and add a colour to the canvas. He was never destructive, and his intervention was only a dot at times. I remember him adding a tiny amount of colour to an eye of the lion, which gave it life. I thought the painting was complete, but I realised it was not. The teacher told me it was only the beginning.

He was different, come to think of it. My school was probably quite different in its league if they invited such a character as their art teacher. Damn, I thought, thinking about all these. I thought my rebel-hood was self-made but perhaps not. I might have learned it somewhere. I still wonder what this teacher was really teaching us in that end classroom in that high school wing. Nonetheless, I am grateful.



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