Insights from Morton High


Each evening I sit at my little house on the prairie watching the sunset and sky, but tonight's moonrise was truly spectacular. At first I thought the lightning had started a brush fire, but then I could discern a rising ark of rose that announced a moon rise. It was huge. Stunning in its simple beauty, it disappeared as quickly as it had risen behind the massive cloud bank off in the distance. The lightning began to dominate the darkening sky.

That is when, for the first time, I realized; that the lightning comes in the hues of the sunset, that the sky is often cast with a true green especially near the horizon, that a wheat field is different colors depending on what your vantage point is. These are all things I observed this summer as I stood on the front porch in awe of nature and the amazing sweep of cloud and sky. That I did not recognize this before speaks more to my ignorance than it does to the fact that the sky here is unique. What is unique is that sky is unobstructed by buildings and I am undistracted by cars, boom boxes, and the constant rush of one event after another.

Whatever the reason, I did not know these things about the colors of nature, and if at some level I did, I had no way to talk about them. I owe this gift to my friend, Mrs. Marilyn Dewbre, the art teacher. This is the summer I decided to paint. I wanted to put the overwhelming sky, the fields, the wind and the storm on a canvas. I wanted to capture the feelings that seeing the meadowlark on our fence or the cactus wren guarding her nest from our dog and cat gave me. I knew I couldn't paint. I'd tried before. But like so many things painting can be taught, Mrs. Dewbre said.

It was an uncomfortable beginning, but I am now the proud creator of two apple paintings. Mrs. Dewbre says that DeGaugh claimed it was necessary to paint 500 still lifes before you could render a landscape. That means I have only 498 paintings to go. I hope the storms will accommodate me and be there when I am ready! It is easy to understand why some say that teaching is like art. It takes vision, practice, love, patience, constant checking of perspective, correcting that perspective, encouraging the student, making critical remarks without destroying the ego, but most of all it takes a love of your subject. Students see through anything less. I know that when they leave Mrs. Dewbre's class, whether they ever pick up a brush again or not, they will know that the lightning has the hues of the sunset in it.

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