Teaching painting has rewards, both tangible and intangible. I believe that my work has improved in no small part due to my teaching for almost eighteen years. Simply put, my students have asked me questions that make me truly think about everything that I make, from why I chose a certain color scheme, to why I have chosen a particular subject. Most importantly, many of my students have become cherished friends. So, I am grateful to those who have put their trust in me as a teacher.
Sometimes, I am given something tangible as a result of teaching. That happened last week, when one of my students handed me a small box. The box was in great shape, but clearly old. I opened it to find 6 almost pristine pastel sticks. I often joke that I am the Imelda Marcos of pastel. You may see a sampling of the pastels I have collected to use over the years below.
Although you can see that I have quite a collection of pastels, I had never seen anything like these Gunther Wagner babies. They were manufactured between 1900 and 1930, from what I can tell. Gunther Wagner was a chemist who started the Pelikan Ink Company. How the pastels came to the United States is a mystery. This is how they came to me:
The 92 year old aunt of my student's wife died this past year. In going through the aunt's things, getting ready to auction off most items, they found a box that apparently came from the desk of her father-in-law. The aunt just boxed everything up and brought it to her own house after both the father-in-law and mother-in-law passed away. As far as anyone could tell, the box had been untouched for MANY years. Items like these have basically no auction value but are too good to be thrown away. Therefore, my student thought that I would enjoy them. Well, what an understatement. I am thrilled to have these, and to share this experience. Here's a photo of the resurrected box, and its contents.