Art teacher looks beyond the classroom

One of the featured artists at this year's Blueberry Arts Festival is Cloverdale's Mary-Lou Williams.

Artist Mary-Lou Williams is one of the featured artists at this year's Blueberry Arts Festival.

One of the featured artists at this year’s Blueberry Arts Festival is Cloverdale’s Mary-Lou Williams, an art teacher at Clayton Heights Secondary.

An instructor for 32 years, Williams, Fine Arts Department head, has never stopped pursuing her own varied artistic interests, painting, sculpting, drawing and doing pottery.

“I’ve always done art,” she says, explaining she’s amassed a huge body of work over the years, in addition to frequent on-the-job demonstrations of technique for her students.

A recipient of the B.C. Art Teacher’s Excellence in Art Education Award for 2012, Williams  loves teaching, and finds inspiration from her students.

“I love the teenagers and I love art. It’s just a natural fit for me. I can take my personal experience and development as an artist and help them with their own development.

But this spring, she decided it was time for a change.

“It’s time for me to start looking further than the classroom. My passion’s always been promoting my students’ art in the community,” she says. “I’m trying to realize that I have to let that go.”

She’s participated in several other shows over the past 30 years, but is now treating her artist with a renewed seriousness.

[Blueberries by Mary-Lou Williams, will be on sale at the Blueberry Arts Festival.]

Williams has already begun testing the waters, entering a couple of juried art shows, including the Arts Council of Surrey’s recent Just Birds exhibit.

She wasn’t quite sure what to expect. She was surprised and delighted when one of her paintings was awarded honorable mention for Works on Canvas.

“I got really pumped about that,” she laughs.

Her work is also being exhibited at Surrey MLA Jinny Sims’ constituency office, the third emerging artist to do so.

She’s become involved in a wider community of artists, too. This year she also became a director on the Arts Council of Surrey’s board.

“The Surrey Arts Council is really supportive in giving emerging artists and practicing artists the opportunity to show their work,” she says, praising the newest exhibit space at the Newton Cultural Centre.

“There’s a strong core of Surrey artists that are working really hard and getting their work out there.”

The Cloverdale Blueberry Festival is another avenue of reaching out. She and her daughter will be there selling paintings and pottery.

She does some portraits, but finds herself drawn to landscape and nature subjects much more frequently. Dogs and cows are also favourites of Williams, who lives on a farm in Cloverdale where she and her husband have a herd of Maine-Anjou cattle.

“Ha, I’m a busy lady sometimes!”

“Being on the farm, I love animals,” says Williams. “Those things always seem to find a way into my paintings.”

While excited about venturing into new horizons on the artistic front, she’s also looking forward to getting back to her students again.

“It’s very rewarding to see someone master something. That lightbulb comes on and they have an aha! moment,” she says. “I love my job. I love it, because every day’s different.”

The students often inspire her. “There’s always that flow back and forth. I get creative energy from them, and they get it from me.”

On Saturday at the Blueberry Arts Festival, she’ll also be volunteering for the Arts Council of Surrey, spreading the word.

“What you put into your community, you usually get back in handfuls. I love Cloverdale.”

Surrey North Delta Leader

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Girls, women try their hand at marine rescue in Surrey

Achieve Anything Foundation, RCMSAR Crescent Beach host ‘Operation: This IS You! Saving Lives at Sea’

White Rock cadets nab medals at Vernon competition

Thirteen members of 907 Squadron compete at regional meet

Surrey boy living with congenital heart disease to speak at local Tedx event

Mason Vander Ploeg will be speaking on saving the oceans

VIDEO: 2020 BC Winter Games wrap up in Fort St. John as torch passes to Maple Ridge

More than 1,000 athletes competed in the 2020 BC Winter Games

Winds up to 70 km/hr expected across Metro Vancouver

Winds are expected to subside overnight

Still six cases of COVID-19 in B.C. despite reports of Air Canada passenger: ministry

Health ministry wouldn’t comment on specific flight routes

Violent ends to past Indigenous protests haunt Trudeau government

Trudeau adopted a more assertive tone Friday, insisting the barricade must come down

Fraser Health warns some schools of possible COVID-19 exposure

A sixth COVID-19 patient is a woman in her 30s in the Fraser Health region who recently returned from Iran

High-risk sex offender cuts off ankle bracelet, on the loose in Vancouver: police

Vancouver police said Kirstjon Olson, 38, is a provincial sex offender with 27 court-ordered conditions

HIGHLIGHTS: Day one and two at the 2020 BC Winter Games

Athletes had sunny – but cold – weather to work with in Fort St. John

Most Read