I taught my first class at Howard High School in 1965. I have taught at high schools, colleges, church basements, grand halls, regal resorts, and 45 states. I have worked with thousands of students and, for the most part, the experience has been extremely rewarding. There is no profession as honorable and noble as teaching. Especially, if I may say so, teaching art! Where else can you find so many people dedicated to learning a craft that offers so few rewards. There is little chance of getting rich, fame is only in our dreams, and it seems that the better and more personal we get at our craft the smaller the approving audience gets. From my point of view there are no people so beautiful as aspiring artist.
The rewards of teaching come in small increments, one student at a time. One student making the jump from imitation to creation. Each new understanding brings a smile to the face of student and teacher. Each time I see the light of awareness radiating from the face of someone I am working with I am richly rewarded.
Teaching and painting have been my life and I could not have wished for anything better. This year I received the highest honor of all, even bigger that the Towson University Distinguished Alumni Award, and the High Winds Medal from AWS, when Barbara Smucker honored me with The Big Orange Splot award. The Big Orange Splot is a children's book written by Daniel Manus Pinkwater. It is the story of Mr. Plumbean who lives in a town where all the houses are the same until the day that a seagull dropped a bucket of orange paint on the roof of Mr. Plumbean's house. The neighbors were upset that their perfect, predictable town had been altered. Mr. Plumbean, however, saw potential in the occurrence and painted his entire house in equally vibrant colors. "My house is me and I am it. My house is where I like to be and it looks like all my dreams," said Mr. Plumbean. After many discussions with the neighbors and lots of shared lemonade every house was painted exactly as the owner wanted his house to be. Barbara Smucker's inscription to me reads:
To Skip- Thank you for being the "Mr. Plumbean" in my life."
For me there could be no greater thanks than this gift of shared joy and respect.