According to Al Ochsner's independent-study student, 17-year-old senior Becca Hac, Ochsner "is not an easy teacher." His persistence in making her become better at matting her work early in her high-school career resulted in tears of frustration.
Matting is an exacting and tedious craft, but learning how best to present a painting or sketch can translate in to higher sales prices, Ochsner said.
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"I'm good at it, but I hate it."
But Ochsner saw great potential in Hac and knew she needed to hone that skill. Hac will attend the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.
Sophomore Isabella Kane, 16, said Ochsner requires students to do a lot of thinking.
"They are projects you would not do by yourself," said freshman Landra Laserna, 15.
For example, how could Kane make a temporary piece of art, and yet display it, for the aesthetics project? She figured out she should paint on her hands, took a photograph of the work, then washed away the paint.
Noah Hyslop, 18, senior, has taken three classes with Ochsner -- Art I and II, and two-dimensional design. Asked for Ochsner's best quality, Hyslop said, "His energy. He's really lively. I've never seen him in a bad mood."
One of the toughest assignments was the recent aesthetic project, combining a random quotation, a medium and a concept.
"I don't think I've ever thought that much in-depth on an art project," Hyslop said.
But all the projects "are typically the same great experience."
"This is a great way to start the day," Hyslop said of his first-period class.