A picture may be worth a thousand words, but a teacher’s patience and guidance can be more valuable than gold!
The fundamentals of our childhood education at New Albany were the same as any other school of the time. Reading, writing, arithmetic … they’re a universal constant every child must learn. Playing sports afforded quite a few kids the opportunity to train their bodies as rigorously as they were training their minds however, the kids that weren’t that good at sports or simply weren’t interested in sports, had to find other disciplines to pursue.
I knew from the age of 6 that I wanted to become an artist. That’s all there was to it. There was never a doubt in my mind, but I had no idea how to go about attaining that goal. Wonderful art teachers like Marianne Ballenger and Jan Hale helped me find the beginnings of that path, although I fought them every step of the way.
I didn’t want to learn to draw train tracks and telephone poles vanishing in perspective! I didn’t care about some guy called Picasso that painted weird subjects and had a thing about blue! I didn’t want to draw from life! … I just wanted to draw superheroes! Bringing my mind and magic pencils to bear, Captain America and Batman were going to save the day and I was going to be the guy who drew them! That’s all that mattered … or so I thought at the time.
Thankfully the patience and insight of Mrs. Ballenger and Mrs. Hale outlasted my stubborn streak.Slowly but surely I began to appreciate what they were trying to tell me and found I could apply that knowledge to the things I thought were most important … even in my world of capes, tights and super powers. Funny how that happens, isn’t it? You’ve made up your mind and formulated your opinion and don’t want to hear any facts that might dissuade you from your quest!
Then you realize they’re right and you haven’t paid enough attention … and that’s when the real learning process blossoms! The only place you can go from there is up, up and away!
These two talented art teachers may not have always understood my world or my artwork, but like my parents they were incredibly supportive and challenged me to surpass my previous efforts whenever possible! With this new confidence, I began to see the world in a whole new way … vivid colors, shades of gray, and shapes and textures found in Nature that I hadn’t seen before. I began to look for patterns and harmony in the most basic elements of architecture and landscape … the more I found the more I wanted!
To me, this is what great teaching is all about! Not changing young minds and talent, but challenging kids to find their greatest potential and to embrace it. To let it mold and shape them into something more dynamic than they could ever dream possible! I owe a world of gratitude to teachers like Marianne Ballenger and Jan Hale for my wake up call to the world of Art!
Dedicated teachers of this caliber started me on a journey I’ve enjoyed for over 30 years, and there’s really no end in sight! Because of their confidence in my work, I’m now illustrating children’s books … a dream I’ve had all my life! Check it out: cucciakidsbooks.com. Who knows what’s next? In the meantime, I think I’ll let my pencils guide the way!