Prompt #76 “Self-Portrait”

2013-11-12 15.02.19

Portrait by Sophie Davis

He was my teacher and my year advisor and I know so many of us loved him.

He taught us about ourselves. He made us look at things and question and when the time came to draw him I jumped at the chance to do so because I felt here was an opportunity to discover the man is.

He was very flattered at the suggestion I do his portrait, I know he is a very private man, he doesn’t make a lot of noise to attract attention, he goes about his job in his own unique way.

I have to admit that I wasn’t his best student. I did drama during my Year 10 and he cast me I have to admit so accurately as an obsessive compulsive I often felt he knew far more about me than I was comfortable with.

I liked that he gave me the opportunity to express myself. At one stage of our performance schedule he gave me the script and said read it and if you see any areas it might be improved then write something and we shall discuss it.

At the time I jumped at the chance as I did see parts of the script that could in my opinion be improved.

The next day I presented him with my suggestions. He listened to what I had written, he listened to my reasons for saying what I said he then told me that my ideas were good except I had missed the point of the scenes in question and that he would re write the scenes taking into consideration the suggestions I had made.

At the time it was big thing to be entrusted with such a responsibility. I thought I made great suggestions and I was very chuffed when the new scene appeared with some of my ideas written in.

Now I look back on that time and realise he was giving me ownership of my character and her scenes. It was after all his script. His work that we were workshopping and eventually performing in front of some wonderfully responsive audiences.

I now know he was not relinquishing his ownership but rather giving me the sense that my ideas mattered and were worth while.

I liked that about him. He would listen, talk to you as one person to another and no matter what always seemed to be able to find something positive to say, encouraging you in whatever pursuit you were undertaking.

So when it came to the portraits he was the same. He wanted to know how they were coming on. He’d come into the art room and sneak a look and I’d see the look of amazement on his face as I began to draw him as I saw him.

We did do a photo shoot and he was very generous in his time and willing to go along with the little whims I had about the sort of photo I wanted from the serious to the pulling funny faces (seeing your teacher screw up his face like a little kid is a delight I must say).

When I finished I presented his portraits, as a collection of thirteen images as I felt only in this way was I able to capture the many facets of him. (I’ve published one of the portraits at the top of this post, the rest you’ll have to go to his house to see).

It was a beautiful thing I have to say that at the end of his teaching career I was able to present him with the portraits as a farewell gift not only from me but from every student with whom he’d had contact over his long career.

He is essentially a quiet man, intelligent, witty, creative and who sees those about him as people who like him eat and breathe and who deserve to be treated, as he would like to be treated.

As a teacher he wanted every child who entered his classroom to leave it enriched in some way. He wrote shows during his career with the single purpose of taking the students who wanted to be part of them on the most fantastic journey with him, to discover after the stage lights had dimmed, that they had been to places within themselves they never thought possible.

Drama was his passion, he saw it as a great teaching tool, one that allowed those in his class to grow and experience learning in his own unique way.

He was an awesome teacher, a good man and a friend to so many.

Written for: http://mindlovemiserysmenagerie.wordpress.com/2014/10/12/prompt-76-self-portrait/

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26 Responses to Prompt #76 “Self-Portrait”

  1. Michael this is so touching and beautifully/thoughtfully composed. In this I can feel your love of both theater and teaching. I can see that you were an amazing teacher and that you learned a good deal from your students as well. I love that you have written from the perspective of one of your students because it shows what a lovely bond you shared with them and how much you cared for them. I can tell how touched you were when she did your portraits and how impressed you are with her talents as well (outstanding artist). Wonderful Michael!

  2. I think that you have painted an excellent portrait of yourself. You are intelligent, witty and creative and quiet. Your teaching skills and love of what you did, has changed many young lives I am sure.
    Very interesting and honest portrayal my friend.

  3. Lyn says:

    What wonderful words from a former student, Michael. To leave such an impression on your students is wonderful testimony to your love and care as a teacher. T he portrait ain’t too shabby either 🙂
    I can’t say I felt like that about any of my teachers…except maybe Kevin John Riley, my 6th grade teacher. He was also headmaster of our small/medium sized primary (grade) school. He would brook no nonsense, but we thought he was great.

  4. Gabriella says:

    I enjoyed the post but also the perspective you chose. Much more interesting than if you had written it ‘yourself’, if you see what I mean.

  5. mandy says:

    “He would listen, talk to you as one person to another and no matter what always seemed to be able to find something positive to say, encouraging you in whatever pursuit you were undertaking.”
    This is beautiful, Michael. I see you haven’t changed a bit. ☼

  6. RoSy says:

    WONDERFUL!!!
    What else can I say?

  7. Eleni says:

    I would have loved to have a teacher like this! Even better, I’d love to become a teacher like this 🙂

    • Thank you Eleni for your lovely comment. It takes hard work and about thirty years to get the hang of it. But if you want to be a teacher then go for it. You’ll learn something new every day.

      • Eleni says:

        I actually taught for a few years but found that the demands were too much for me to handle. It takes a special person to be a teacher! I’m now a teacher aide, which I find to be just as rewarding as I get to work one-on-one with kids and hopefully building there confidence and sense of self-worth.

      • If you work with kids and find it rewarding then you are most likely doing a great job. I always believed if the kids spoke to you then you were doing ok.

  8. Bastet says:

    What a lovely portrait Michael … her describing you, you’ve described her and the great relationship established as her teacher … a really beautiful post, my sincerest warmest compliments.

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