Friday, October 5, 2012

Love is... Giving Thanks!

                                 "Love is..."    acrylic on panel 14 x 11 inches

This small panel vividly and I believe, accurately depicts from my memory, my seat in Miss Evelyn Mott's Grade 4 classroom. Yes... we did use straight pens with ink in the well to the upper right on the desk! The P.O.W. depicted the name of the school (Prince of Wales)... but to the class more likely was translated as "prisoners of war. The arrow and heart? Johnny Mallory Loves Sharon Hull. Sharon died giving birth to her first child. People do Matter ... to "Me"... an so do details... for I am... and always have been an entirely  visual learner. Education should provide for that kind of learner... in every school day! It did in my thirty classes! It's possible!

The warmth and security are obvious in the painting. The constant ...blooming geranium is still my favourite flower indoors. The calendar was part of her "kindness" ritual. Each month bore circled dates... one for each of the birthdays of her class members. On your day... she brought you to her desk at the end of the day... placed you gently over her knee... as she "tapped out" your age to the glee and laughter of the other class members. It was her way of singling out...and honouring your presence. It said in a HUGE way... that... "You matter!" February 11th is shown in the upper reaches of this panel - my day on the lap!

World Teacher Day, October 5th, 2012

I continue to own this painting... but it was painted for my Mom when she was residing at St Lawrence Lodge Nursing home in Brockville as a Mother's Day gift. However, it was painted to celebrate and remember the love and mentorship of another important individual in my journey. "She" offered "Me" a different kind of love than my Mother's for certain... but her love was instrumental in my relentless pursuit of excellence and understanding my art... and the world around me.

Her name was Miss Evelyn Mott and she was either revered... or feared... depending upon how you responded to the task of learning in her classroom. Her pedagogy expanded much beyond the norm of the "3 R" delivery expectations of her time... and embraced a healthy respect and participation in the for the Arts... a respect for God  and his word... and a demand that each person... "do his or her best."

In my own case, I worked for her words of praise daily... and ran off to school each morning... just to get inside her realm of love... excited at every turn by her words and actions of discipline and dedication. She was a role model of her tenets. Memory work was another expectation... recitation of long poems... random morning drills on multiplication tables... for all class members... with consequences of one's response was slow- a tall sheet of foolscap (aptly named ruled sheet both sides) on the right side of her desk.... the missed table fact and others up to 12x for the missing table... ten times and left on the left side of her desk... before you departed for home at 4:00 pm. Precious recesses were used for this purpose!

Her knowledge of... and love for making art was obvious and infectious, even to a grade four student. She encouraged us to enter local Hobby Shows and to enter the annual Toronto Exhibition Art Show for Children... and I did... gleefully! And I did win! Here is an example that has hung in my studio during my entire career and artistic journey.

 " Me in Miss Mott's Apple Orchard"- Grade Four, aged 9 years.... and I did help her and her brother Harry to pick apples at her small orchard in the Fall. That is where the painting idea emerged from. Plein air... sort of!... even back then! HA HA!

As naive as it appears... she saw the "possibilty" in my work and encouraged me with a mouthful of words and a HUGE hug:

"If you keep doing your work Bruce... you could make  your living doing it!"

Those precious ... (beyond) words continue to echo in my heart... and to motivate "Me" to imagine all these years later. They have inspired me to strive... and to share my work...  as a teacher for thirty years... as a parent with all five of my talented children... and now ... with "You" my blogging Friends around the globe.

Her gift of Love and Kindness, some 58 years ago was so powerful to at least... one small boy... that his life and journey has been indelibly shaped and directed beyond her time on this earth. Think of how many students who have sat in my classes and heard her message... through "Me." Is that not... true Immortality?

On this special day... set to honour Teachers around the world, if you have a special teacher in your own life... or the life of any of your loved ones... take the time to approach them in your own way... or with a card or email to say "Thank You!" for their Love and Kindnesses. Support governments like Barack Obama's... who value educators rather demeaning them... by giving your vote and local support of your own schools... OR...

Leave a memory / comment here on my blog recognizing that special educator in your own life! I'd like that!!!

Children are our gifts to a Future that we will likely not see. We owe it to those children to put the very best minds... and kindest hearts at the front of their classes. I support Barack Obama' s plea and determination to add 1,000,000 new science and math teachers to the classroom. But I challenge him as well... to add as significant a number of teachers... who love and can pass forward the cultural and human values that we should value as highly as the other and are ONLY are attached to the Arts.

On our own Thanksgivng Day... I give thanks for my first and primary teachers... my Mom and Dad... and the long line of teacher-mentors who made a difference for "Me". Evelyn Mott, Arnel Pattemore, Roy Hastings, Mildred Hyde, Vivian O'Neil, Donald Taylor, Bruce Bracken, John McCullough, Lansing MacDowell, Poul Thrane, my brother Larry, David Kay, Frank Edwards... my wife Deb, each of my children... and all of my Friends who have taught "me" and encouraged "Me" ... through their constant love and kindnesses... that "I" ... Matter! Thank you!

Each of these individuals has contributed to my journey... and to whatever I have become!

I am deeply blessed...

Good Fall Painting and Thanksgiving ALL!!!


  1. Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family, Bruce. Ours does not come until the 4th Thursday in November. I love reading of your memories. I also won an art contest though it was when I was in 1st grade. I still remember the images I drew as well (a beehive hanging from the sky with bees buzzing about it). Apparently I lost too much steam in the intervening years. But I sure love your memory of your classroom. I think my favorite teacher ever was my 5th grade teacher, Mrs. Irene Burton.

  2. Hi there Crimson Leaves... We have them here too! HA HA!!

    Good of you to share your early memories... of success here Sherry! It would seem to me from my own teaching experience and your comment... that those junior elementary years... grades 4 thru' 6 are indeed the "Formative Years" for nearly all of us!

    Special thanks to the "Irene Burtons" of this world... for their legacy certainly leaves behind a mass of sensitive and caring people to carry on their own good works and vision for a better world!

    Thank you for sharing... and a Canadian Happy Thanksgiving blessing to you and yours... until November arrives... as it surely will!

    Good Painting!
    Warmest regards,

  3. Hi Bruce,

    One of my favorite painting of yours and there are many. Wonderful tribute to your teacher Irene Burton.

    All the best to you,

  4. Hi there Joan!... Thank you for commenting! Glad that you enjoyed the painting!

    My tribute was to my teacher... Miss Evelyn Mott. Irene Burton was Sherry's mentor of memory!

    Good Painting!
    Warmest regards,

  5. This post is a lovely tribute to your teacher and class mates.
    I was very blessed to have had some superb teachers. Mr Bailey who by generously agreeing to teach me art during his free periods meant that I could also study ceramics. (A glitch in the timetabling would have stopped me from studying both.) Also Mr Jones, my english teacher, who would give me an arm full of books to read for the week - some were from his own collection. I remember the twinkle in his eye as he gave me James Joyce's Ulysses and the chuckle as he walked away. It's good to remember these inspiring people who helped to shape the adults we have become.
    Happy Thanks Giving Bruce.

  6. Hi there Lisa!... Thanks for visiting and for sharing your own experiences as a learner on your journey... and the mentors who shaped "You"!

    These are most important and influential blessings for ALL children! The very essence of "who" we are... and how we develop... as individuals... and as a culture... are largely dependent upon the "gifts" of these dedicated individuals who share their time so unconditionally!

    "Twinkling eyes"... that is the manifest joy of such a giver!

    Good Painting,... and titling!

    Happy Thanksgiving!
    Warmest regards,