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Teaching beyond the classroom

November 23, 2011
By ZACH KUKKONEN , Houghtoin Daily Mining Gazette

HOUGHTON - Michigan Technological University Professor of Art Mary Ann Beckwith has always been able to connect with her students, but with her latest venture, she will be able to connect with students around the world.

Approached by one of the largest art suppliers in the country - Joe Miller and his company Cheap Joe's Art Stuff out of Boone, N.C. - with the idea to make an educational video for aspiring artists and students, Beckwith jumped at the opportunity.

"I've taught for him many times, and he asked if I would allow him to produce an art video," Beckwith said. "So we did it this summer. He has a professional video company that's first class ... and in two days we did the entire video."

Article Photos

Mary Ann Beckwith, seen here in a file photo, recently made an educational video titled “The Brush and Beyond,” showcasing her artistic techniques. (Daily Mining Gazette file photo by Stacey Kukkonen)

Over those two days, Beckwith worked with a videographer and editor to create a two-and-a-half hour video showcasing her technique and instructing artists on how to use her techniques in their own aesthetic. Beckwith was honored to have the opportunity and impressed by the production value.

"He's very selective about who he has do the videos, so it was something pretty special," Beckwith said. "The studio was perfect because it's a very neutral stage. They can put in your artwork behind you and the lighting is fabulous."

The video took a little longer to film because Miller had Beckwith basically carry out the entire creative process from start to finish.

"The process was they literally had me start at the very beginning of one of my paintings and go to the very finish, showing six or seven steps in between while waiting for the painting to dry," Beckwith said. "It was the complete process of my work from start to finish, and then it went into additional hints to enhancing your own artwork. It was a pretty inclusive teaching video."

Beckwith often uses educational videos like the one she created in her classes, so it was a pleasure to create one of her own that other teachers and professors could use.

"Showing a video is an excellent way to show the attitude and knowledge of others," she said. "It gives a class much more depth and breadth.

"It's really healthy in arts education, because when you live somewhere like this that's remote, it's easy to become distilled into a style and to not have people discover more and see what's out there is wrong," she continued.

Doing the video for Miller was doubly an honor because Beckwith has been impressed with all he's done for the art community.

"In creating Cheap Joe's Art Stuff, his attitude was that people were being charged too much for art supplies," Beckwith said. "He's a kind and generous man ... and quite well-respected in the art community."

Beckwith's video, titled "The Brush and Beyond," is offered at by searching "Beckwith."



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