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Ever have the experience of someone bringing up a memory involving you and you don’t recall the event at all? This happened to me yesterday.

My former high school art teacher was giving a talk at my museum on a book he had written and I was asking him about providing an introduction to the audience. We talked about him having been my art teacher and he said he clearly remembers first meeting me in ninth grade. I gave him a pencil that drew in several colors. He said he remembered thinking, “This one is going to get an ‘A’.”

I have no memory of giving him this special pencil, but I do remember him being a favorite teacher. I saved up most of my art credits for senior year and spent most of that year in the art room.

During an oil painting class, students were to paint a portrait starting with a photo from a book or magazine. We had to trace the outline of the photo using an overhead projector. I remarked to this teacher that I thought that was cheating. We ought to be drawing portraits from life and then painting them. It was at that point that my art teacher called me a “purist,” which was meant as a compliment. I wanted to do things from the start, not create a derivative work.

I wonder if my art teacher remembers calling me a purist. I sure don’t remember that colored pencil.