By Anna Bitong
Thousand Oaks High School art teacher Steve Love, who is retiring this year, said his favorite memories at TOHS are of catching up with former students who have gone on to successful careers in fields such as graphic arts and illustration.
“I feel really lucky because I (taught) motivated kids,” said Love, a teacher at TOHS for 23 years and at Westlake High School for 10.
Love introduced the idea of art school to many of his students, helping them compile a portfolio of paintings, drawings and other artwork to show prospective colleges.
David Enriquez, a member of the TOHS Class of 2012, followed Love’s advice and took advanced arts classes at Otis College of Art and Design in Los Angeles on weekends. In the fall, he will attend DePaul University in Chicago to study digital cinema.
“He taught me to take risks and try different things I normally wouldn’t have. He taught me to build up my confidence,” said the 18-year-old. “Art is hard to teach. Besides the fundamentals, he reached past that by being an overall good teacher and a good guy.”
Love emphasized the technique of shading to create pictures with dimension, darkness and light.
“It makes something rounded and real,” said the teacher, who lives in Ventura.
In Love’s life drawing class, junior Riley Wagner drew a symmetrical keyhole that framed a walkway leading to a horizon surrounded by flowers and a cherry blossom tree.
But Riley had hesitated when Love encouraged her to take his Advanced Placement art class this year.
“I didn’t think I was capable. He helped me believe in myself by believing in me,” said Riley, 17. “When I started in life drawing last year, I was slow. He was really patient with me. He’s such a good teacher.”
The easygoing mentor gave students the space to express themselves, both Riley and David said.
“You’re just really comfortable around him. You don’t need to be afraid to act like yourself,” said Riley, who is heading into his senior year.
David, who took three classes with Love, recalled the teacher’s dedication.
“He lets you do your own art style, but he’s always there trying to help. He’s always so busy helping other students you don’t know when he’s going to get to you, but he does.”
Love grew up in Sunland and took oil painting classes for 12 years when he young. He earned his teaching credential from Cal State Hayward, now Cal State East Bay.
He looks forward to painting, surfing and fishing during his retirement.
He said he’ll miss everything about teaching. “I’ll miss the kids. I’ll miss art room A7.”
On graduation day at TOHS on June 7, Love’s underclassmen took their final exams. Some handed him gifts as they left.
Love will be missed, Riley said.
“When I think of art, I think of Mr. Love,” she said.
David hopes to one day work in film as an editor, director or actor. The graduate thanks Love for his guidance.
“If it wasn’t for him saying ‘go for it,’ I wouldn’t be here.”