Theresea Reeves (left) with MCC Art Instructor Rick Johnson.
Non-traditional art student making up for lost time
Theresea Reeves never had the chance to take an art class in high school. She tried tole painting, but admits that was probably 30 years ago. She’s making up for lost time now as a non-traditional art student at McCook Community College and her frenetic pace is energizing the art department.
“As an instructor who is active with my own art, part of my responsibility is to convince students what they need to do to improve their skill – they need to put their time in,” instructor Rick Johnson said.
“When students see the dedication Theresea has and they can follow her progress and see the improvement she’s making because of her hard work, it serves as an inspiration to all of us,” Johnson said. “She really has become a role model.”
Theresea said after high school and after experimenting with tole painting, she became fond of oil painting and learned techniques mostly through books. Yet, her finished products lacked something. Her hobby painting always seemed to take a back seat to raising her two sons.
In August, the Oberlin native decided to see if she could improve on her painting skills. At McCook Community College, she found an answer that is spinning her life in an exciting new direction.
“I used to see Rick Johnson’s works in art shows and really admired them. I had heard a lot of good things about him as a teacher at MCC,” she said. “I finally decided to ask him about the possibility of a ‘golden oldie’ taking college art classes.”
She said Johnson has earned a reputation as one who is “always approachable” for artists trying to improve. He encouraged her to try a class, and with her experience and level of skill, she enrolled in “Painting 2” class in August. It was set for Mondays from 1-4:40 p.m.
Those three-plus hours once a week wasn’t enough.
“She’d show up in the studio on Wednesdays and Thursdays, and she’d try new techniques and experiment with new methods and all the while we’d all just watch the amazing progress she made in her pieces,” Johnson said. “Between the time she spends here and the work she continues to do at home, she probably spends 20 hours a week devoted to improving her skills,” Johnson said. “And I think we can all see the improvement.”
If she’s not painting, she’s sketching or taking photographs or analyzing photographs. She’s living life as an artist.
It all started back in August with an in-depth study of the basic elements of art and visual elements, how to master color mixture and how to manipulate paint. She used brushes in different ways to produce different effects and she experimented with lighting elements and shadows and tints.
“You can read books and you either get it or you don’t,” she said. “I love being in class because the dialogue you have not only with the instructor but with other students who can show you more than one way to do things and talk about their experiences and techniques.”
She sought out a teacher because she knew her painting lacked something, but she didn’t know exactly what. She only knew she wanted to take her art to a higher level. She believes she used to paint with her hands but after spending time on campus she’s painting with her mind and her heart.
“There is a great deal of pleasure in learning and improving something that means so much to you. It is very satisfying to the inner soul,” she said.
While she has earned honors for her oil painting in the past, her ultimate goal is to sell her work. Her instructor believes she is already poised for those accolades, but knows that his student’s work ethic isn’t likely to drop off, because she has a passion for learning.
“The more I come here to campus the more I realize I need to keep coming to campus. I’ve learned so much already and there is much more I want to learn.”