“Remembering my first art teacher”

In an artists journey there are moments of outside influence that make us go that extra distance. Though I do believe art is a virus, there are individuals that occasionally come along to lift you to the next awakening or realization.

I remember when I was bitten by the bug but what I remember as the cross over moment was in grade ten art class. It was a small narrow room, where Norman Chiklowski ruled. When drawing from a still life or model, he had us use ball point pens so we could look at our errors and ugly attempts to draw. “No erasers in my class”, he would shout, but during that year he taught us all the basics of making anything artistic.

Somewhere in my upside down logic I decided to go visit him at his apartment to talk to him about art. I had found his address and arrived unannounced at his Sandringham Drive address in Ottawa, there was a doorman and he had to call up to let me in. The tirade I got over the intercom from him scared me, I walked away worried about what the next day in class would bring.
As I stood a few feet away from the front door to gather myself, I heard his voice behind me. He apologized and explained to me that students don’t drop in on teachers at there home uninvited, he then invited me to come in for a brief visit.
His apartment was bare, with hardly any furniture in it and everywhere where canvases, all painted in the same style. The colour was dense and dark, the subject matter typically what art looks like, most of the time, but the technique was puzzling. For Norman it was about this new technique he had discovered while mixing different mediums, something that today I understand and can reproduce easily.

In school Norman gave me allot of room to experiment in class and was always extremely critical of my work and efforts to create. I did track him down years later, after I had graduated from art school. I called him up, again he was annoyed at first then he asked how I was doing, where I was showing my work. But in his abrupt manner the call ended with a “Well, don’t starve and keep painting, Ya good luck”.

circa 1967

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