You can’t always choose your mentor.


In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Teacher’s Pet.”

THE teacher who had an early impact on me was my art teacher, Mr Patterson, or “old Patto” to us pupils.

He was an amazingly talented watercolour painter and could take your artistic attempt and show you tips on how to improve it by adding literally a couple of strokes or flourishes.  Inevitably, the creation you’d slaved over all afternoon was transformed before your very eyes as he began to empower, help and enthuse about your work whilst deconstructing every stroke! (for the greater good of course).

He was a kind man and went out of his way to encourage, nurture and bring alive any slight passion for art which was latent in all of us.

He was also very humorous and our lessons always started with bang!  He’d make us laugh whilst reviewing our homework by his hilariously staged re – enactment of how we may have approached a particular piece, mimicking the pupil who had presented it.  Don’t get me wrong, this wasn’t cruelty, not to us.  It was his character and no one objected as he made you feel part of  the group, not picked on, picked out or isolated.  It was purely funny and always inspired the class.

I had definitely decided by the end of high school that art or something creative was for me and my future.

This is where it all goes wrong…

Now at a 6th form college (UK) doing A Levels, and at a different school, (my school didn’t have the 6th form set up), I had perused art and history of art.  However the new teachers were completely different and I began to feel unsupported, lonely, my work criticized.  I longed for old Patto to appear beside me. Then it would have been ok. But this was a different town, different world.  It was as if someone cruel had taken a tube of red oil paint and deliberately smeared it into my face telling me “you’ll come to no good thru art”  My body and brain already ravaged with teenage angst, I inevitably lost my direction with art and stupidly quit to persue other avenues.

You can’t always choose your mentors…

Although, now I have a healthy appreciation of all art or creative endeavours and still peruse them happily.  Maybe “Old Patto” has steered me gently back over the years from way upon high…

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2 thoughts on “You can’t always choose your mentor.

  1. That’s good that you had such a good teacher, but what a shame that A Level Art didn’t treat you well. I understand completely: partway through my A Level Art course, i changed my mind about doing an art degree because i just didn’t think i could cope with was expected of me and my artwork. My tutor didn’t support me, just lectured me, and i got stressed out which ruined art for me. I’m glad I switched to an English degree, but things could have been so different.

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