March 25, 2013

Art Teacher Al Sprague

We all have our favorite teachers from the past.  Somebody that touched and made a difference in our lives.  I can name a few of those teachers in my life, can you? 

My father is one of those teachers who made a difference in the lives of many students at Balboa High School in Panama.  He understood teenagers and did things a little different than the normal teacher.  

Over the years, I have heard stories from past students on how my father molded them into the individuals they have become.  Many went on to become artists, architects, or simply art lovers.  

"Cascadas", Oil

It was a common experience for the students of my father's to watch him work on a painting at the same time they themselves were working on paintings.  Many watched him create some of the pieces that are now displayed in the rotunda of the Administration Building of the ACP (Autoridad del Canal de Panama).  

One of his favorite activities with his students was to take them out of the classroom to paint the jungle.  The class would pack up their watercolors and head over to Admin Hill where they would sit and capture the beauty of the fauna of the jungle.  He would say there was no better way to learn to paint then to be out in the natural light and experience the outdoors while creating.  Still to this day, one of his favorite ways to paint is to go outside and capture an image in natural light.  

"Pixvae Palm", Watercolor, 2009

I was an elementary school student at Balboa Elementary School at the time my father was an art teacher.  Going to visit him while he was up on the hill above my school was one of my favorite things to do.  I felt really special to be able to climb up the hillside and sit with him and his high school students.  Not only did I feel important because nobody else was allowed to climb up the hill, but I loved to watch my father create something from nothing.  Still to this day, it is one of my favorite things to do to sit in his studio and watch him create a masterpiece from a blank canvas or paper.  What a gift!  

Young Al Sprague creates while outdoors

Not only does he have the gift to create but a gift to teach as well.  So many people learned from him and he is constantly teaching people.  Over the years he has taught printers in Panama how to set up their own silk screening businesses, taught people how to cast sculptures, create fishing lures, and how to use new techniques in art.  The amount of people he has touched and influenced never ceases to amaze me!  And I know, he will continue to teach and influence as long as he has the ability to do so.  

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