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Publisher's Letter

Reminiscing About Grade School Art Classes Ahead Of This Issue’s Focus On Local Talent

She has been deceased for decades, but is probably still in purgatory for the fraud she pulled off as the art instructor at our old grade school in Philadelphia. We got to thinking of this nun while enjoying the piece on local artists. We had a small gift for drawing as a wee boy; thus mother got us into the school’s art class at an early age.

Soon our oil paintings appeared as fast as Picasso used to pay for restaurant meals by scrawling little drawings on cloth napkins, which were highly prized by waiters. Sister G. started pupils off with still life—charcoal drawings of apples and wine bottles and such—and then progressed to outdoor scenes in oils, such as snowy woods with a house in the distance, or fishermen in hip boots surrounded by majestic mountains. We learned fundamental principles that have served us throughout life, such as calipers are used to measure stuff and cadmium is a shade of yellow. We also learned that fixative smells.

Word soon spread that we had a wonderful gift, and our oil paintings began gracing the walls of many relatives’ homes. What the relatives didn’t know was that virtually identical paintings were simultaneously appearing in dozens of homes throughout our parish. This was due to the good nun’s teaching style, which consisted of letting the pupil sit down at an easel and make a few strokes with a brush, and then she took over and finished the painting in about 90 seconds.

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She sometimes let those of us who had a little talent add a personal touch to the almost finished product. One contribution we made was doing the fishing line of a fellow wading in a lake surrounded by majestic mountains. Today a computer would do the job, but in that era, working by hand, our line looked like the electrocardiogram of a seriously ill person. It was therefore not surprising that some 20 years after our art classes, we discovered our father-in-law had astonishingly similar paintings in his house. Remarkably, he had the same nun as an art teacher a generation before.

We are happy to report that this remarkable skill has been passed down in the genes. A still life, much like the ones we specialized in years ago, was done by the then 12-year-old Colin Breslin. His older brother Sean is responsible for “Unfinished John Lennon In Pencil.” These artistic geniuses are no relation to us except grandsons. And, until investigators prove otherwise, it is their own work.