Tom Block: Tall Oaks From Small Acorns Grow

This is a truly special post about a pretty rockin’ dude.

Teachers are so important, and in my mind-especially the art teachers. I was lucky that while at my high school I had three of the most incredible art teachers-for painting/drawing, photography and ceramics. I loved my art classes so much that I did independent studies and spent my free blocks and study hall time in the art rooms. My teachers let me hang out in their classrooms when no one else was in there, including them so that I could do my thing. It was great. And it helped to mold me into the free spirited, hard working artist that I became.

The main room teacher, Mr. Block had an 8 track player in his room. He only had one 8 track, and it was Pink Floyd, The Wall. It smelled like paint water and photo chemicals in the art room and it was amazing. I usually picked my schedule to start my day in the art room. I was usually about five minutes late and Mr. Block never yelled at me. In fact, I think he came to expect it. He told me about the college I ended up attending and I am so glad that he did because the education I received was phenomenal.

Mr. Block has since retired. In July of 2007, after 37 years teaching art, he decided it was time to do his own thing and work on his own creative projects. He is a wonderful illustrator and painter. For his retirement party, he invited his former students to participate in an art show. I was delighted that I was told about this because, what better way to honor your former teacher than to participate in his retirement show?!


I painted a small painting for it. It is the back of the Hollywood sign, overlooking the hills and the skyline. You can see the braces that hold the giant letters, the dead plants from the dry spring and the haze that almost always covers the skyline. It isn’t the glamorous view of Hollywood that you often see, but it was my view of Hollywood and it was beautiful. I look back on my time in Hollywood in only the fondest of ways-much like I do my time in art classes during high school.

I am so lucky. Thank you Mr. Block, Ms. Cowperthwaite and Ms. Sutter.  You guys totally rock.

You can read more about Mr. Block and his retirement in this article by Bob Keyes.

Also, there is a cool video here from the show!