There is a woman who just retired from teaching last year. Her name is Kathleen Phelps-Rusche. She was simply Mrs. Phelps when I was in Junior High and Senior High. My Senior High art teacher, who I will not name here, always played favorites while Mrs. Phelps always encouraged all of us to be what we could be.
I was never a favorite in Senior High. I was summarily ignored while perceived good artists were encouraged. Now I wonder if those encouraged art students even still draw, paint, or anything else (sorry about the bitter), but I digress.
Mrs. Phelps still encouraged me beyond Junior High. She showed a basket I made in the junior high art show for years after I had moved on to the Senior High. It encouraged me to keep going, despite the fact that I only had moderate encouragement from the current teacher. I usually ignored what she said and just kept going, plugging along. It was Mrs. Phelps I thought of when I started taking art classes in college and it was Mrs. Phelps, along with Mary Ann that were the reason why I basically minored in art at an engineering school, under the guise of a communications minor.
Mrs. Phelps is who I think of anytime I do any handicrafts or do things like my zendoodle. She was a firm believer that coloring outside the lines in art and stretching the definition of art was what the world was all about. She was also a firm believer in creating art because you want to, not to please other people's sensibilities.
Mrs. Phelps, wherever you are, thank you. If it weren't for you, I would not be the woman I am today. You taught me to stand alone on my own and simply be. You also taught me that it isn't the medium, but that it's the intent to create that is important. Also, you taught me that mistakes are ok. They add to the charm of a piece.
You amaze me and are one of the most influential teachers ever in my life.
So, today I want to feature an artist that did a lot for me when I was in my 20s. She taught me how to play with mediums and not to worry. All art comes out as it is supposed to. She also taught me that there are no rules, only guidelines.
Her name is Mary Ann Beckwith. She taught me water color and mixed media in college. I have to admit that I had a bit of a crush on her because of the freedom she showed in all that she did. She helped me through some of the worst times in my life, including a time when I wasn't sure I was going to make it.
I use her freedom today in everything that I do. She was the encouragement I needed at the time when I needed it most. I was alone and didn't feel like I had any friends in the world and there she was with her open lab times that allowed me to wander in and bury myself in my artwork when I needed it most.