Friday, November 25, 2011

Thanks to Doug Johnson, Art Professor at UW-River Falls

Professor Emeritus, Doug Johnson. Photo from here in 2008.

I have to give this guy credit. I took two classes with him while I was in my early college years at UW-River Falls around 1990. His Art 100 was not just the usual art appreciation class where you look at lots of slides of great art and discuss. He actually had us all purchase Craypas and good paper so we could MAKE some art of our own in all the styles we were studying. I had no idea how liberating that would be! In high school, I had creative and talented friends who were in all the Art classes, but I was on the college prep track, so no time for art classes. Sigh! Thank goodness Art 100 was REQUIRED in college. And thank goodness, I took Doug Johnson's class that pushed us beyond merely appreciating art.

Dog in the style of Nabi (circa 1990).

Doug Johnson encouraged us to really press in the color with our pieces. None of that wishy-washy pastel stuff. We had to be "committed" to the piece. He didn't want to see any of the white paper showing through. ;-)

My last spring semester in River Falls, I took a sculpture class (I had learned the year before that it was impossible to take heavy and serious classes in spring--Try writing a paper on nuclear war while the apple trees are blooming, and you're in love! The two are not compatible!) Anyway, the creative classes took an investment of time, but not memorization--it was a different kind of learning where we really got INSIDE of the lessons-- for which I am grateful.

I don't know that he ever made it big with his art. He was the kind of guy who--if he dropped a pottery sculpture on the way in to the gallery, and if he liked the way it broke apart on the floor, he'd fence it off and make it a display. Now that's rolling with the punches!

Doug Johnson made me promise I would take more art classes, even if it wasn't my major. He saw some potential in me. Now, it's 20 years later. I doubt he'd even remember me. I would like to say "Thank you for the encouragement in those early years." I have taken more classes and made more art since then. "Making stuff" has become an important part of my life.

You made a difference in my creative life, Professor Johnson. Thank you! Happy Thanksgiving!

I forgot to mention that this is in honor of Story Corps National Day of Listening where you Thank a Teacher.

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