A Cup of Teach: Mr. Gleason

A Cup of Teach: Mr. Gleason

Dos Pueblos Art Teacher Kevin Gleason has always had a passion for drawing. Even when he was a child, he enjoyed using his imagination to respond to the world around him.

This interest blended into teaching because of his relationship with other art teachers. He “always had great [art] teachers growing up” who “seemed to stay young” throughout their years of teaching. These role models remained at the back of his mind and influenced his desire to become a high school teacher.

Gleason stands in front of his students’ artwork. Each piece showcases a unique perspective using vanishing points and perspective lines. “I almost see people’s art as … a visible extension of their personality or their interests,” Gleason said. “You can sort of see their mind turned inside out. So, it’s kind of fun to see students explore that.” (Alex Ortiz)

“Even the teachers who were older, who were getting close to retirement, [had] something about them that seemed to stay young,” Gleason said. “I think it’s because they surrounded themselves with young people their whole life.”

Gleason went to UCSB and got his teaching credential in Long Beach. Teaching was not easy in the beginning, as talking to a room of thirty people seemed overwhelming to Gleason. However, through his subsequent years of being a teacher, Gleason’s relationship with teaching changed. His passion only grew as he was supported by teachers and students alike. The relationship he had with students and their parents also changed as the years passed.

“When I first started, I looked younger than half my students,” Gleason said. “I was only a few years older than they were. And the parents of students were very intimidating because they were my parent’s age. Now, I’m at the stage where my kids go to this school and I’m the same age as all the parents. So it’s kind of come full circle.”

Hendrys from the Douglas preserve by Kevin Gleason

Gleason hopes that other teachers experience the same feeling that he does when he is able to share his interests with students. In his experience, seeing students find happiness in art makes him happy to be an art teacher.

“I just get to help [students] explore, and I really like that the subject I teach is so subjective and there’s not a right way to do it,” Gleason said. “There’s as many right ways as there are artists.”

Teaching with this mindset is not always easy. Giving constructive criticism requires teaching about a variety of art styles and not tailoring a student’s artwork to be a certain way. Encouraging creative expression is also key to allowing students to express their unique interests.

“That’s the fun of art … I feel like an artist’s style is taking all of the things that really fascinate them and that they love about art, and kind of mashing them together and creating their own

Archway passage by Kevin Gleason

things,” Gleason said.

Seeing the artwork that his students have created allows Gleason to expand his teaching and art skills.

“It’s a cliche to say, but I’ve learned as much or more from teaching than my students have from me,” Gleason said.

Gleason hopes that his students continue to develop their art skills outside of the classroom whether they decide to make a career out of art or not. He believes that people can get better at art throughout their lives, and encourages students to continue finding enjoyment from it.

“For my students who do want to try and make their living off of art, it makes me really happy because there are so many ways to do it,” Gleason said. “There’s a lot of great jobs in the design sector, so it really excites me to see students finding work that, to them … feels like play. Like, they’re really doing what they love.”

Outside of the classroom, some of his hobbies include painting, hiking, and backpacking. Gleason blends these interests together through landscape painting, allowing him to blend his “two greatest loves” and enjoy the outdoors.

“My favorite thing in the world is to be out on a trail that I’ve never been on and just seeing where it goes,” Gleason said. “That’s what makes me happy.”

Tree of light by Kevin Gleason

Additional hobbies that he enjoys include cooking, baking bread, and gardening. Gleason’s love for making and growing things is the main reason for the variety in his hobbies.

“I have way too many hobbies,” Gleason said. “I just like anything that involves making stuff.”

For any aspiring artist, whether in his class or not, Gleason recommends to continue creating art despite any circumstances. Even on a busy day, he recommends spending at least 10 to 15 minutes sketching out ideas. Additionally, he urges people to avoid letting other artists or artwork heavily influence their creations.

“One thing I’ve learned is [that] people don’t know what they want; it’s an artist’s job to show people what they want,” Gleason said. “They don’t know it until they see it, but when you make something that … really came from the heart and it really means a lot to you, magically it’s going to also mean a lot to other people.”

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