Few years ago, I went to a church book sale. I didn’t find any books I interested in but on my way out I spotted a book among the children’s book table. It was the book I been looking for over 35 years, “The Kingfishers”!
40 years ago, our family immigrated to Toronto, Canada. I was still a teenager and had not finished high school yet. I was sent to Central Technical School in Toronto to continue high school study.
However, I spoken little English and was very shy. During my interview with the school principle I showed him my little sketch book. He must see something in me and allowed me to enter their post secondary three years art programs.
I never had any formal art lessons back in Hong Kong and my follow students are lot older and more advance in art training.
One of the classes we had to attend was art history which started from Greek period. Since my English was rather limited and all those Greek words were not just hard for me to follow. After a couple of those classes I deceived to avid it all together.
One afternoon, when I was skipping art history and my home room teacher saw me. After I told her my reason of not attend class, she invited me in to her class room. She was about to give me a private lesson in watercolor.
She pulled out a book from her book case; it was “The Kingfishers” by Karel Novy and with beautiful illustrations by Mirko Hanak. Hanak’s paintings were heavily influenced by Chinese and Japanese paintings. My teacher, Barbara Greene thinks being Chinese I would appreciate his works. She gave me watercolor lesson on wet on wet technique. Noticed I did not own any decent brushes, she allowed me to use hers.
From then on, every week, I would learn watercolor from her instead of attending art history lesson.
Many years later, I discovered, Ms Greens was the president of the Canadian society of painter in watercolor. I only had her as teacher for two years as she retired before I finished the three years program.
This book is now my prize procession and reminds me the kindness of a great artist and teacher.