This is my Valentine to my Father, Francis C. Baptist who died just a couple weeks ago. He was 97 and his spirit was present until the end. Dad was my first and most influential art teacher, my greatest supporter and my biggest inspiration for becoming an artist. When I brought home a scribble from elementary school it was celebrated. There is a box of them, from all 3 kids in the attic someplace. Some even got framed and hung up for a while! There was never any judgement…whatever we created was good! Dad was an Art Professor at the local State College for 24 years. His office was only a couple blocks from our house. One of my favorite memories is when he had office hours and I had to go with him because everyone else was busy and I was too young to be on my own. Dad would open up this HUGE closet of art supplies the school had and start pulling out paper and chalks or paints or whatever and say “Here”, and I’d plop on the floor and play! He taught art gently. We’d go on road trips to visit relatives and we’d always stop by historic places and museums. He’d let me go about the paintings as I wished but he’d always pull me aside and point out 1 or 2 special things about that exhibit or this master painter. Just enough that I could remember at that age. Both he and Mom instilled a love for culture and beauty in us that is now part of my DNA. I remember taking my 1st drawing class from Dad in college and pretending we were not related. That was a fun experiment and I fell in love with drawing with charcoal in the very first class. He was an amazing teacher; filled with such enthusiasm for what he was teaching. Many students visited him 20+ years after graduating to express their gratitude for what he taught them about art and life. Many are sending cards to my Mom as I write this. He had an impact. The thing was, his joy and enthusiasm was for life as much as it was for art and that’s what the students caught sight of. Dad loved theater and music. Put them together and you have opera. Now that is one love I never acquired a taste for, but I have come to appreciate some of it. I do love classical music more than I ever thought I would when I was a teenager. So many of the things I like, such as classical music, theater, movie musicals, old movies, ART, everything art…the marks I make, the fact that I love the figure are all gifts he gave me and I get to relish those things for years to come and remember him while I am doing them. Thanks Dad. I Love you and Miss you. Here are just a few of his artworks. I share them with you now to give you a small taste of his spirit and talent. They have never been seen outside a very small circle of friends and family. Enjoy.