So many lessons learned

Published 12:00 am Thursday, March 3, 2005

I wrote this week’s Lifestyles feature with a certain leg up, if you will, compared to some of my feature subjects. Case in point: I had to rely on the considerable expertise of local &uot;rocket scientist&uot; Jim Jernigan for the recent story on his Fort Dale physicists because, frankly, a science whiz, I never was.

What I always had a certain knack for, it seemed, was drawing. Pardon the pun, but I was drawn to Crayolas, felt-tip pens, #2 pencils and blank pieces of paper from the time I could first grasp them in my little hands.

I hated learning how to write (I think it had something to do with being a &uot;lefty&uot; and feeling out of place). If you gave me the chance to draw flowers, however, or a pretty lady in a rainbow-striped gown, a green-faced witch with a dentally challenged smile, complete with a large wart on her beak-like nose – I was happy. I was in my element. Next to reading, daydreaming and playing pretend games with my older sister Sara, art was just about my favorite thing in the whole wide world.

Email newsletter signup

So when I heard we were going to get an art program at the high school, I was so excited. I had wanted to take art classes for years, but we didn’t know of anybody teaching them.

I had used a lot of my sister’s old art instruction books along with the ones I collected over the years – &uot;How to Draw Heads and Hands&uot;, &uot;How to Draw Trees&uot;, that sort of thing – but I longed for a real teacher in a real classroom I could visit everyday.

And in 1975, I finally got my wish. Priscilla Davis came to teach us art, and for three glorious years I got to learn from a master.

As I noted in my article, our supply layout was pretty bare bones in those early days. Still, as Priscilla herself points out, you CAN run an art department with nothing more than a #2 pencil and some paper.

A lot of enthusiasm, energy and ingenuity on the part of the instructor also made an incredible amount of difference – and Priscilla brought all that and more to our art classroom.

A great teacher shares more than just lessons in her subject. She gives you valuable lessons in life along the way.

When we would reach that difficult point in a drawing when we just weren’t sure if we should kept working or let our pencils rest, she told us to walk away from it for a while. &uot;Then you can come back with fresh eyes and see it in a new way – then decide,&uot; Priscilla told us.

I have found that to be excellent advice in writing, also. I’m the sort of person who can pick and tweak and stew over a piece I am working on forever and a day; it’s where my perfectionist tendencies really come out. Now I know I simply ought to &uot;put it aside and come back with those fresh eyes.&uot;

Priscilla taught me not to simply look at things, but to really see them; believe me, there is a vast difference between the two. There are a lot of us out there who can lay claim to bettering ourselves through her instruction, both as artists and as human beings.

Even though I didn’t come back to take her place at GHS as I had once imagined I might (Stacey is doing an excellent job of following in her footsteps), I am still putting into practice lessons I learned from Priscilla every day. First my favorite teacher, and now my treasured friend, Priscilla Davis encouraged me - and still encourages me – to unleash the creative energies inside.

I sure am glad I passed that first art test in the high school cafeteria!

Angie Long is the lifestyles reporter for the Greenville Advocate and can be reached at 383-9302, ext. 132 or via email at