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MY TEACHER

My grandfather taught me to see with my heart and to be fearless about what and how I paint and what I feel. I remember sitting on his lap one day, as he gently consoled me after a 4th grade art teacher graded the purple mountains I had painted, criticizing me for choosing purple instead of brown or burnt umber. He was angry at the teacher's audacity in trying to correct me about what the right color choices for my mountains should have been because, as he said, "There are no rules in art, just like there aren't any rules for your heart." My grandfather, Paco, as he was known to everyone, didn't speak English and wasn't aware of the lyrics to America the Beautiful. But one day, after he was gone, I remember the exact moment  I when I realized that I wasn't the first person to visualize Purple Mountains Majesty.