collection 13

Lives Well Lived

A 40-Year Life of Painting Boards


In 1976 I started teaching painting and drawing at a private college prep school in St. Louis. That summer, in preparation for fall classes, I ordered from a local lumberyard more than a dozen 4’ x 8’ sheets of ½ inch fiberboard to be cut into smaller boards and delivered for use in drawing and painting. These boards, cut from the large sheets, were about 18” x 24” in size, sturdy, yet soft enough to thumbtack paper to for painting and drawing classes.



I taught there for 11 years, leaving in 1987 to work as an art director/graphic designer at an international public relations firm. That new career took me all the way until retirement—just a few years ago.

Fast forward to 2018, when I began substitute teaching at the same school in the same classroom that I left over 30 years ago in 1987. Imagine my surprise when I discovered the students today were using the same painting boards I had purchased back in 1976. What I fell in love with were all those many years of leftover paint, pencil, and charcoal. The now abstract traces of past work, spills, marks, rectangles, line, and form—happenstance and random remnants in tempera and acrylic paint were all there, as if to say, “Just imagine what we did!”


Click on any image for larger view.


Nothing lasts forever, and the boards are nearing the end of their useful life—the fiberboard now brittle, bowed, and ragged. But they still work—and may for another school year or so before they are replaced. For me, I had to photograph these old friends, to share these with my community, and recognize their service to what has become two generations of young artists.

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