I just found out yesterday that one of my high school art teachers had passed away on the 9th. Although, Alice Allhoff was not my favorite art teacher (she was up there, though), she was an important one in my development as an artist. We butted heads often, as she was an abstract expressionist and I was into realism. I was shy, awkward, and immature, yet defiant in many ways and this came out most awkwardly in my stumbling towards improvement.
As I was looking through some of the drawings that were done in my first year of high school drawing classes (I hadn’t looked at these in years), I noticed a lot of Cs. A lot of them. A lot of criticism, too. As I was reading her marks on my pages I didn’t disagree with any of them. She was extremely patient with me and even if I didn’t realize it then (I did at times), she taught me to look at things in different ways, take different approaches and all the things that an art teacher should be doing. She was very good at what she did, even if we didn’t see eye to eye. I was lucky to have the instructors that I had in high school.
There was this one time when I arrived in class late and as I was walking in she said, “well, if it isn’t Mr. Rude, Inconsiderate… and Tardy, as well.” That one stuck with me for quite some time, thanks to my classmates.
Another lesson learned was when I received a C on an assignment and this girl in the class who was not even an artist and didn’t want to be an artist received an A. I went into the sculpting room bitching up a storm, the injustice of it all, blah, blah, blah. The sculpting teacher, Mr. Zeibert (my fave) let me rant and rave and carry on and when I turned to him for validity, he told me I got what I deserved. See, he paid attention to all that was going on with his students and he then proceeded to tell me that said girl actually tried to do a good job, she worked hard and improved on her piece from start to finish, where I, on the other hand had just ‘mailed it in,’ as he said. He and Ms. Allhoff expected a better piece than what I turned in. By the time I finally picked my jar up off the floor I realized that I had been schooled (in school, no less!) and it was an immediate lesson learned.
There was an office that connected the painting class to the sculpture class and one day the drama teacher, Mr. Beard came into the office to visit and sat down at the desk as she lectured. The phone rang, so he answered it, saying loudly “Hello… Auntie Alice’s Palace of Flesh.” Now, Ms Allhoff was a pretty straight laced kind of person and she just slowly turned her head, grimaced a bit and Mr. Beard shrugged his shoulders and said “Maybe they’ll call back?”
Below are some pieces that I picked out for the comments:
This assignment was supposed to be blind contours, but as one can plainly see, I peaked. It didn’t fool Allhoff any, at all. Surprisingly, I received a B+.
I remember doing this piece vividly. I thought it turned out rather well at the time, but she noted that I ‘used too much tone.’ This one received a B.
Working in ink washes on this one and as she stated ‘shiny objects need highlights.’ Well, duh, they sure do. A deserved C-.
I’d almost forgotten my Frank Frazetta-ish signature. I used that for years. Goofy.
So, I’m saddened by her passing, as she was instrumental in my growth as an artist. And a person, as well.