Wednesday, August 26, 2009

The Art of Living: Richard Hayman, artist and teacher

Richard Hayman was in some ways the best of my art teachers. Thats not to say that he was the best artist, among my teachers. But taking that aside, Richard was an excellent art teacher, no doubt the result of him having taught at art at Lakefield College, for many years.

I cannot put Richard on a pedestal, for he was a man and not a saint, and as a man he was a less than perfect - as are we all.

Richard was born in India. His mother died in his infancy. His biography on the Art School of Peterborough website, reports that he was raised by a rather stern and autocratic father and an artistic step mother.

I signed on to Richard's beginning watercolour class a few years ago and was impressed by the depth and quality of his instruction. He was a masterful instructor. His classes were composed of sequential lessons, and he would lead by example in his demonstrations, and he would guide us in copying the works of other painters.

But he also had his artistic eccentricities. Richard would ride his bicycle through the streets of Peterborough to the art school. And, I don't think I ever saw him when he wasn't wearing his favourite pair of old pinstripe trousers - even when he publicly appeared at the reknown Buckhorn Arts Festival which featured many of Ontario's premier artists.

Di Collins, a friend of Richard's wrote a magnfiicent tribute in memory of Richard on the Art School website. You can also find many of his beautiful oil paintings displayed there.

But, I write, not as a friend, but as a student. He gave me my first example of the generosity of artists, when he would unselfishly reach for his best Kolinsky brush and say, "here try this."

Richard had a goal set out in his mind when he taught. He once said in class, "I want you to be aware of potential problems before they happen."

He enjoyed gathering his students around him as he painted and taught by example, as might a mediaeval master. And he guided people in copying the works of other artists, but he did so with careful explanation that they had to identify the original artist with the title, "After, whomever" Richard said many times, "Copying is what created great medaieval artists. Its an important learning tool."

As I said, Richard was a man, and not a saint. He could be indiscrete on occasion, if someone upset him. But taking all in all, this was a secondary issue, for Richard was a man of vision, who was responsible for the creation of the Art School of Peterborough, which has enriched the lives of uncounted number of people.
Richard was at his best publicly when he wore his tuxedo, representing the Art School at the prestigious annual fund raising auction.

Richard is missed and his gift will live on through the years to follow.

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