So, I was Kurt Cobain’s Highschool Art Teacher…

Kurt Cobain 1984

Kurt Cobain 1984

Abstract artist Robert Hunter writes on his Artspan site, “Art is fun and good for the soul! This is a solid doctrine to live by and helped me through years of teaching thousands of high school students, including Kurt Cobain.”

Hunter was kind enough to answer a few questions about what Cobain was like as a young art student.

1. What grade(s) was Cobain in when you taught him?
Kurt came to Aberdeen High School as a transfer from nearby Montesano. He was enrolled in basic art classes and commercial art Sophomore year and his Junior year. He was to take more art his senior year but dropped out.
Deep Woods I by Robert Hunter

Deep Woods I by Robert Hunter

2. Did he seem to enjoy art? What was his style like?
Kurt loved Art!!! He was a prolific drawer even after he left high school. His style was somewhat of hard-edge realism with a strong cartoonish bent to it. Some of his art work from high school can be viewed at the EMP Museum in Seattle.
3. You say that “Working with young people for almost 27 years left me with some of my most memorable moments; that vital exchange that happens including problem solving, active coaching and counseling, and sharing perspectives on life.” Do you have any memories of teaching Cobain that you can share? 
Kurt was very quiet, for the most part. I enjoyed working with him using the airbrush. He seemed to delight in making colorful “spider” forms by spraying compressed air at blobs of ink. He also had a distinct fetish for drawing Smurfs. He must have drawn hundreds of these, seen attacking each other with spears and bows & arrows.
4. You say, in talking about your own artwork, “Color and how it interacts with line, shapes, texture is of infinite interest to me. While some compositions may start with a graphite or charcoal sketch on canvas, currently I use a ‘free-flow’ pattern of gesso squeeged across the canvas. This prepares the work for the ‘bones’ of the project–suggesting shapes or a certain feel. Next comes the introduction of a dominant color, such as indo-orange, or a sea-foam green.” It’s funny because my brother used to quote the Nirvana line, “Aqua seafoam shame.” Do you remember if this is a color you associated with Cobain, or he particularly enjoyed using?
Most of Kurt’s portfolio was made up of black and white drawings (ink or graphite). The few color pieces he completed were complementary colors, with red/green being favored by him. *Note: The Fender “Jagstang,” made for Kurt, is produced in a sea-foam green.
Windows to the Soul II by Robert Hunter

Windows to the Soul II by Robert Hunter

5. Do you remember any advice you gave Cobain?
Somedays during art class Kurt would provide a running commentary/critique of rock music being played on a local Aberdeen station. His comments could be extremely sarcastic and negative. At times like this I had to remind him of the alternative–no music at all! ( Like many art teachers I used music to facilitate a better environment–I sure didn’t want to turn off the radio!) Over-all Kurt and I had a positive, creative relationship. We both had similar interests: music and art. His skills as a young artist were awesome; he could draw very well, plan and complete original compositions, and explain/articulate his finished drawings / paintings during critique.
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9 thoughts on “So, I was Kurt Cobain’s Highschool Art Teacher…

  1. As one of the students in those classes I can honestly say the Bob was an amazing instructor. Yeah Kurt was there, along with a few other standout artists, but the real treasure in that room Mr. Hunter…..if Kurt was here he would tell you the same thing.

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  2. I will never forget Bob Hunter and the inspiration he was to me. I learned from him that creativity and individualism are ok and that everyone has a voice and a story to tell; a concept that is not always easy to adopt as a young adolescent in the grips of puberty and existing social anxieties. He was instrumental in helping students find their voice and develop it into something that was an extension or expression of themselves. At a time in a teenagers life when individualism and conformism are often at great odds, Mr. Hunter was a confidence boosting mentor that could give students the much needed positive escape that they sometimes needed from the angst ridden society that is high school; something that I didn’t realize until much later in life. These artistic endeavors and creative lessons would prove not only to be a useful tool in my creative life professionaly but also as an important aspect of my general confidence in myself and my ability to work in groups and collaborate with others, putting forth my ideas and also my compassion for others that have expressed their ideas and creativity. Thank you Bob.

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    • HOW INCREDIBLY RUDE TO MAKE A COMMENT LIKE THAT HERE. YOU DISRESPECTFUL. LIL BITCH.
      OBVIOUSLY YOU KNEW THIS WAS GOING TO FOCUS ON KURT AND HIS ARTISTIC TALENT. THAT WAS ACKNOWLEDGED BY HIS TEACHERS AS EARLY AS ELEMENTARY SCHOOL.
      MUSIC & ART. ART & MUSIC . THEY ARE FORUMS FOR EMOTIONS, PERSPECTIVE AND THE ARTISTS OWN PERSONAL RELATIONSHIP WITH THEIR OWN TALENTS AND ABILITIES.

      WHO ARE YOU TO JUDGE SOMEONE ELSES LIFE SCARS, LET DOWNS AND LET GOES?
      Who are you to percieve Kurt’s lyrics,music and artwork? It’s not yours to take apart his work and review it and lay claim to what the connection Kurt as an artist had with any of artwork?
      I can guarantee 100% IF KURT HEARD YOUR REVIEW HE WOULD SAY;
      ” Fuck you brother. This isn’t for or about you.”
      My own advice to you if you don’t dig Kurt or his many artistic forums. Stay off them. What do you have like a physical form of TURRETS? You want to stay away from anything Cobain but have an episode leading you to
      To be victimized by EVERYTHING KURT?
      Well let me tell you this don’t you ever judge a mans life until you’ve laid in his coffin for 21 years.
      And YOU MOST DEFINITELY DON’T SPIT ON IT YOU SIMPLE BITCH.
      SO NOW GO BACK TO WATCHING MARLEY & ME FOR THE 800TH TIME AND KEEP SEARCHING FOR A BACKSTREET BOY REUNION TOUR.
      AND IF MR.HUNTER IS YOUR GURU GO TO BLOGSPOT AND BLOG AAWAY. IM SURE THEY’LL MAKE IT INTO A MOVIE.
      UNTIL KEEP YOUR DISRESPECTFUL AND IRRELEVANT THOUHTS INSIDE YOUR FUCKED UP HEAD AND DON’T COME BACK HERE OR TO ANY OTHER OF Kurt’s INTERACTIVE SITES UNTIL YOUR FUCKIN BALLS DROP.
      WHICH I GUESS WE’LL BE SEEING YOU BACK AROUND HERE…….UM
      NEVER.

      P.S Tell Courtney it aint over til it’s over. AND IT’S FAR FROM OVER. WHATEVER LIES HIDDEN IN THE DARK COMES OUT IN THE LIGHT BITCH.
      HEARD SHE’S BROKE AGAIN GUESS SHE’LL HAVE TO HIT THAT STRIPPER POLE AGAIN. BUT THE BITCH AIN’T WHAT SHE WAS NOT THERE SHE EVER WAS. SO NOW WHEN SHE HITS THE STAGE TELL HER TO STAY AS FAR FROM THE FRONT AS SHE CAN. BECAUSE IT’S NOT GONNA BE DOLLAR BILLS THIS TIME. AND I HEARD THEM QUARTERS HURT.

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  3. Pingback: Kurt Cobain Touring Art Show In The Works

  4. This is so cool thanks for sharing this! I’m entering high school this year , and I’m taking art as well. As a huge fan of Kurt’s art/music this article really inspires me.

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