Accomplished Artist and Alumnus of The Hun School, Stephen Polin returned to campus this spring to teach a three-week painting class.
Polin volunteered his time to the School when AP Painting and Photography teacher Stacy Collingham took maternity leave in February of 2004. He taught one class of fourteen students for three weeks. Class preparation, instruction and clean-up took approximately three hours each day. Polin spent the extra time preparing and breaking down the work area so that his students could spend the entire forty-three minute class period painting.
The students’ assignment was to create an oil painting from a photograph. Initially, some expressed doubts about the time restraints. Polin’s response was to paint portions of all of their paintings himself in the same amount of time. He successfully collaged their pieces onto one masonite canvas of his own, “The Sum of the Parts,” which he then dedicated to the School. He also had prints made and gave one to each student. You can see the students’ work on Polin’s website at: http://www.spxyxx.com/.
Polin reflects on the students, the experience, and his newfound appreciation for teachers:
“From the very first day, each student gave me their time and dedication toward achieving the goals of this project. I was amazed at the abilities of many of these students. I gave them instructions, they listened, and I demonstrated on my canvas different techniques. At the end of each class, I was in awe of how much progress each student had made. In the end, every student completed an exceptional painting. Many of which I found superior to much of the work I saw at the university level.
I feel that we have all gained great insights from this experience. The students got to see and understand that oil painting can be challenging and rewarding. I learned what it takes to prepare for a class each day and make sure that each student gets enough time and attention, thereby supporting their effort to achieve their goals. For a few weeks, I experienced what every teacher, not just at The Hun School, must do to prepare for just one class. The thought of what is needed to prepare for six to eight classes a day boggles my mind.
I own several companies and paint every night for about two to three hours. In addition, I usually paint most of the weekend. My personal work and painting schedule pales in comparison to that of a dedicated teacher. Should any parent ever doubt a teacher’s workload, doing what I did was a sobering experience. I would like to thank Dr. Byer, Mr. Bush, Ms. Collingham, Ms. Snow and everybody at The Hun School for giving me the opportunity to ‘live’ this life lesson.”
Polin began painting with oils in 1972, having been influenced through the years by Magritte, Ernst, Dali and De Chirico. He was not at that time trained in the field of art. His style is reminiscent of, but not confined by, surrealism. Represented by David Mann, an authority on surrealist painting, Polin opened his first professional show in 1974. Since then he has completed nearly 300 oil paintings, several hundred etchings, over 300 watercolors, five porcelain series and over 200 other works in various mediums. He has sold about 75% of his pieces.
Polin’s pieces are in The New Jersey State Museum in Trenton and The Reading Museum in Reading Pennsylvania as well as in over forty-five private collections. Polin resides in Newtown, Pennsylvania with his wife Jaclyn, son Schuyler and daughter Rianna.