Ever since very early childhood. I spent hours drawing from imagination.

Rainy days while in Elementary school meant inside recess. That spelled fun activities for all.

Timken Roller Bearing Co., calendar, September...
Timken Roller Bearing Co., calendar, September 1950, teacher at desk (Photo credit: George Eastman House

Teachers offered opportunities to draw, sing, tell stories or just mope in our seats. Very few of us moped.

At home, the radio was rarely on therefore the 1950’s songs other kids sang were exciting to hear. Some songs seemed grownup. I remember thinking it was silly for kids my age to act like a movie-star-grownups singing  LOVE songs! In the presence of a Good Shepherd nun? Or was that the point?

We had lay-teachers—the ones who got paid to teach. I was never sure why there were lay teachers in a parochial school. I knew there were no nuns in public schools. The Pope wouldn’t allow that. Public school intrigued me then. The public school bus passed our school yard every day and the kids on the bus looked normal. Why couldn’t I be with them?

I’m diverging—back to my budding art career.

My favorite rainy-day activities were drawing, painting. My 5th grade teacher was impressed with one of my paintings. It was a winter scene with people skating on a frozen pond. However, one skater was giving me a hard time. I couldn’t fix his limp lower leg. Maybe the skate was too heavy? Just then Sister Sainte Rolande looked over my shoulder and said, “You will be an artist some day. You are very good. Keep painting and you will get better.”  I was stricken with glorious pride. A nun complimented and encouraged me to develop my talent. Alleluia!

In the eight grade, I created holy scenes on chalkboards for the teacher. She seemed to like my work and asked me to create “a nice picture” on the extra 4’x6′ blackboard.

I loved working with colored chalk on a black board. The images were complicated and detailed. They included the Virgin Mary, Jesus, Joseph, animals and perhaps other characters from the New Testament. Whatever struck my fancy.

I’ve always been intrigued with the human form and features. On two occasions two different teachers decided to teach us how to draw people. It was simple if everyone did it the right way. (They obviously shared the same arts activity manual.) We divided the paper into 4 sections and added parts as seen in this example.  Look familiar, anyone?

I  was aghast! Nobody looks like that. Or—perhaps? I often wondered what  a nun looked like under all that clothing.

Everyone’s artwork was tacked around the room for several weeks.  Eventually, other projects happened along. None very interesting. There just weren’t any art classes. There were state mandates and classes required by the congregation, to graduate. Or was the Pope creating the curriculum? Art was definitely not part of the program.

Italiano: La Morte di Cesare di Vincenzo Camuc...
Italiano: La Morte di Cesare di Vincenzo Camuccini è un quadro che si trova a Roma nella Galleria Nazionale d’Arte Moderna. Français : Mort de César Deutsch: Der Mord an Gaius Iulius Caesar Español: Asesinato de Julio Cesar en el Senado (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I graduated the second of my class. High honors. Then I convince my dad to let me attend public high school. He agreed, mostly because he would not have to pay tuition for another four years.

I discovered several kids from my parochial school had also switched over to the public school. And the classes were co-ed. Students were normal and classes were interesting. But there were no art classes. The Latin teacher realized I was interested in art, therefore, my Latin project included a painting. Title: “Et tu Brute“. Very morbid, indeed. I still have it.

My step-aunt, Marguerite, knew the artist, Ed Mayo, of Kennebunk, Maine. Ed recommended I read a couple of art books, which she purchased for me! I was so happy that she thought of me! I read each book cover-to-cover. I treasure them still. Aunt Marguerite brought me to Mr. Mayo’s studio to observe a water color demonstration of an ocean scene. I was so impressed. I practiced the ocean scene over and over. It was difficult, but I didn’t
give up.

During my senior year, the high school librarian asked me to display my paintings in the library. My first one-man show! I never got them back. I was too shy to ask him to return them. I’m sure they were thrown away.

However, art was offered for the first time in the public high school the year after I graduated. Darn! I should have stayed back. So I struggled on my own to learn more about art.

Thirty-two years after high school graduation I was in the middle of building my own home (with my own hands). I had spent a whole afternoon shaping one cabinet door and decided against that project. I hired a carpenter, Dennis Dunton, to build the kitchen cabinets.

Recognizing Dennis’ surname I realized he had grown up in the same house I had previously lived in. Dennis was intrigued and shared humorous events that occurred as he grew up in the old 13-room house. He offered a tour of my old home. It was incredible. All the rooms were the same as when we sold it to his dad, just very worn—he was one of seven kids. As I left, he pointed to a framed painting hanging in the sun-porch. It was one of my ocean scene watercolors! His mom found it when they moved in and had it framed. It’s been hanging on the porch all these years. I was flabbergasted and thrilled at the same time.

I eventually went to the University and majored in art education. Later I also became certified in computer science because art courses were always the first to be cut during economic hardships. So I was an art teacher but taught computer science—with a creative bent. Students earned either a computer credit or an art credit because my curriculum incorporated the arts—I expected my students to be creative.

Now I create art and sell my work. Visit my website: http://www.jomorise.com

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