31 Days, 31 People

I have to imagine a lot of us have memories of those one or two teachers throughout our school days that left an impact on our life. In high school there were two for me, Mrs. McHenry who I wrote about the other day, and Mr. Williamson, my art teacher.

Mr. Williamson was fairly short in stature and he had a well-trimmed graying beard. A lot of the kids called him Papa Smurf. The art room was a walk across the football field away from the rest of our small town high school. The walls of the room were covered with student art and magazine articles of other artists work. I still remember the earthy smell of the red clay we used for ceramics projects. The art room was kind of a sanctuary for kids like me.

I think I had the art bug from a pretty early age, but learning from someone like Mr. Williamson really ingrained it into my system. I took at least one art class every year from grades 7–12. Yep, there was only one art teacher, but Mr. Williamson was incredibly well rounded as an artist. He taught us studio practices in photography, drawing, painting, ceramics and everything in between. The more classes you took the more depth of practice you’d gain. Every topic was hands-on learning.

Mr. Williamson was also a runner and coached the long distance running team. I didn’t really become much of a distance runner until after high school, but I remember going to visit him after high school when he still lived in Lincoln County, to let him know I’d finally experienced what he was talking about regarding connection between running and creativity. Running became a hugely important catalyst for me in clarity of mind and resourcefulness in creativity for a lot of years.

Mr. Williamson had an endearingly grumpy personality most of the time, but you could get past the grumpiness if you could show him you genuinely wanted to learn what he had to teach. I’m so incredibly grateful that I had the opportunity to learn from this true artist who, to this day, lives, breathes and practices his craft. Mr. Williamson always demonstrated that he knows who he is and what he loves, and he lives it. I learned from Mr. Williamson that the art you make is nothing without the life you live, the lessons you learn. What you take in from the world shapes what you put back out there. And it’s important to keep putting soul-filled work back out there.

I found an artist profile page for Mr. Williamson here, it was neat to see he hasn’t changed a bit.



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