31 July 2012

teaching: Newell Turner


 I met Newell Turner, editor of House Beautiful, several months ago amidst a crush of party goers with design on the mind- 
we chatted about dogs!
Doesn't everyone with a dog want to talk dogs?
 I do.
Newell was as charming and unflappable just as you might suspect. He has graciously consented to share his story about the teachers that opened his eyes to the world around him- and beyond.

I'd love to tell you more about two women who taught me how to paint....really how to observe.
I grew up in a tiny town deep in the Mississippi Delta. Fortunately, we Deltans have never let that feel like a limitation. My parents exposed me to so many things as I grew up.
It was all priceless. For example, for a few summers, my parents hired two local artists (one traditional and one contemporary) to teach me painting: watercolor and oil. The lessons I remember the most were en plein air....out on the dusty turn rows of a cotton field as well as under the cool shade of a tree in someone's backyard. Sarah Hubbard and Rita Halbrook.They were two of a number of people who had more influence on me than they probably ever realized.

Newell taps into something I've often thought about-just one of the reasons for my series about Teachers this summer. The importance of teachers is inestimable.Whether the Arts-or Sciences Creativity should be uppermost in a teacher's lesson plan. It is the key-to Knowing.




  1. this is lovely...I too, had a similar experience in rural South Carolina. My art teachers are those that I remember most fondly...they expanded my world

  2. What a wonderful story Mr. Turner relates, and what a great idea. Painting lessons to teach technical skills would have been wasted on me, but would give a unique vantage point and way of observing the world. I can visualize that scene in the Mississippi Delta, with easels set up in front of the cotton field.
    --Road to Parnassus

  3. OH! Newell!

    I will never forget him! As the photographer (the wonderful photographer) was busy photographing everything; I saw Newell standing by our pond....looking!
    He sees it all!

    I knew why that pond was so important and imperative to me to do!

    It popped into my head as a total imperative!! The day we bought the "vacant lot"! (And that is what it was!

    I was so heartened by watching Newell "seeing" our pond! And then he said...." I love the smell of "sweet olive"! He recognized a flower of a plant I did not know was a "Southern Plant"

    My mother was from the "South"!

    I adore that Newell!!

  4. Oh I forgot to answer your question! "doesn't everyone who has dogs want to talk dogs?"



  5. Who isn't interested in hearing what Newell has to say. He completely turned around House Beautiful. I had stopped subscribing and now it's my favorite. Shiree'

  6. Thank you for letting me share that special piece of my life!

  7. What a wonderful series you have done here on the importance of teachers. Newel is so right about the creativity aspect, great teachers give us the confidence to unleash our creativity. And I also love what Newel has done to House Beautiful, one of my very favorite magazines! My English teacher in 11th grade absolutely sent me on a lifetime love affair with literature. Her passion about the topic and her belief in me gave me confidence and a lifelong pleasure in reading.



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