John C. Sayer

"guilty about not being an artist"



Richmond News article Nov 5, 2003

Richmond News article Apr 10, 2007

My grade 9 teacher told me I should be an artist as a career... I wasn't a great drawer but I had an unique imagination... But I got into drugs and booze when I was 12 and a life of crime... When I was 16 a cop got me a job and I turned my life around always thinking about what my grade 9 teacher had said, so I went to some night school classes when I was in my late 30's and got back into it... Thinking of becoming a tattoo artist, I studied Chinese brush painting and took some drawing classes... So I quit my job as a scale tech, rented a warehouse and was going open a gallery... But 3 weeks before the opening a car turned in front of me at an intersection while I was doing about 60km an hour on my Harley almost killing me... While I was in the hospital a friend ask me to do an abstract painting for him, so I designed my first abstract and used acrylic paint for the first time... It took 3 years to recover and I had painted many abstracts so I went into debt for another year and a half trying to do it for a living... I bought a 44 inch inkjet to make my own prints and gave it my best shot, maxed out my credit and had to go back to work but I gave it my best shot all because I felt guilty about not being an artist. I had my first art exhibition at a friend's salon; it was the biggest day of my life. All my close friends and family helped make the food, my daughter sold raffle tickets and my wife looked after the guest book. I even tracked down my Grade 9 art teacher and she came as well. I tried to find the R.C.M.P officer who got me my first job and turned my life around. I put letters on 20 of my paintings and when people came in they got a sheet with 20 spaces and were asked to give names to my paintings, it was a big hit. When I went onto the sundeck after the show, all my friends cheered and clapped it was very moving for me. My teacher liked one painting the best (so I named it "Teacher's Pet"). Well about a month ago I got a call from the school board, my teacher was retiring and she requested one of my paintings as a retirement gift. I was her pupil the first year she started teaching, now 31 years later she is retiring. At her retirement party they gave her the painting that she had liked at my show, she started crying and we hugged, it was very moving. I don't think teachers that are good realize how much they influence our lives.         j.c.s


"My Grade 9 art teacher
Ulla Martin, and me
at her retirement party"


Wife Sue, daughter Samantha,
and Me.