30″ x 22″
22″ x 22″
22″ x 30″
22″ x 30″
“When the student is ready, the teacher will appear (Lao Tzu)” We had finished the addition to our house that included a studio for my future life as a painter when Myrtle, a centenarian watercolorist from Springfield, MO, moved in across the street to live with her daughter and son-in-law. My husband suggested I ask her to be my painting teacher. So when Myrtle invited me over to play in her studio I became her student in what she called Saturday afternoon kindergarten. She taught me about paying attention and beginner’s mind. She told me I would never graduate. Kindergarten included demonstration, practice, critique, and snacks. At some point in the afternoon she would announce “chocolate calling!” We’d head for the kitchen, allow our paintings to rest, and enjoy a chocolate treat, often frozen yogurt. Lessons of Myrtle’s kindergarten include:
1. Don’t copy someone else’s work without permission.
2. Less is more.
3. Don’t be afraid…it’s only paper.
4. Paint with more than your hand.
5. Treat mistakes as opportunities.
6. Learn something new every day.
7. Prepare for your next stage before you get there.
 Lao Tzu as cited at https://www.goodreads.com/quotes/1339572-when-the-student-is-ready-the-teacher-will-appear-when  Myrtle Laabs’ solo show https://news.uark.edu/articles/10837/original-watercolor-paintings-by-springdale-centenarian-on-display-at-the-global-campus  Paul Siudzinski (1978) in his book Sumi-e: A meditation in ink characterizes beginner’s mind “as if seeing something for the first time…to capture the inner spirit of the subject. To follow the way of the brush…” (p. 6). Siudzinski, P. (1978). Sumi-e: A meditation in ink. London: Sterling Publishing Co.