Instructor Spotlight: Sandra Pressley

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Create Something Beautiful

What inspires you? The creative process is about taking that inspiration, melding it with your personal experiences, and sharing it with others in an artistic way.

Instructor Sandra Pressley has been helping people of all ages -- from toddlers to seniors -- take up artistic tools and make them their own.

In her Collage Painting class, she encourages her students to go outside of the standard paint-and-paint-brush medium and to begin incorporating mixed media into their works of art.

Learn more about her background as a teacher, and what inspires her.

What is your educational and professional background?

I have a Bachelor's of Science in Education with a Minor in Art, and I've been teaching for 30 years -- beginning with Kindergarten in the public school system in New Jersey, where I taught for 15 years.

In addition to teaching in schools, I've also offered art classes as a volunteer during the summer for both kids and adults.

I have always loved teaching -- I knew that I wanted to be a teacher when I was a kid! I used to set up tables in my backyard and invited other kids over to do projects, and then I started teaching summer classes when I was a teenager.

In terms of my Collage Painting class, I've been teaching it and other mixed media art classes at locations around Seattle for the past couple of years.

What other life experiences do you have that influences how you teach?

I'm a mother of 4 boys and so I love working with young people!

But I come from a teaching family -- my grandmothers, cousins, and sister are all teachers, too.

I really give a lot of credit to my father who instilled in me the importance of learning since I was very young: We read books together every night (sometimes on topics I didn't understand at a young age, like astronomy!) and he'd take me to the library often, which I always found to be an amazing experience.

With my first child, we were really struggling financially, so we spent a lot of time at the library so that we could have access to computers and books.

As you get older, you tend to fall back on what you learned when you were little -- it stays with you your whole life -- and so I love to share my love of learning and discovery with others.

What do you enjoy the most about teaching Collage Painting?

I love seeing how somebody will take what I show them and then makes it personal -- it becomes part of them.

With kids, there's this lightbulb moment when something clicks, and that's wonderful; but with adults, they also have their own lightbulb moment when they're having a good time and realize that they never thought they could paint or create this way -- and they're doing it.

Can you share an inspirational learning moment in your history?

I had an awesome 4th-grade teacher. It was a rough year for me -- I've always had visual problems and I had had two surgeries that year so I missed a lot of school. This teacher was so kind and encouraging, reminding me that I could do what I wanted to do, and it really made a difference.

She inspired me to become a teacher; she was so nice and encouraging, I felt that if she could do that for me, then maybe I could do that for someone else.

Sandra's Favorites

Book

  • I love reading -- I read a book a week! I like to read memoirs or books set in historical times because I love learning about how people lived in different time periods and parts of the world.

Hobby

  • Reading

Movie

  • To Kill a Mockingbird

Music

  • I have eclectic taste! Some of my favorites include Bob Dylan, Bruce Springsteen, and Kendrick Lamar

Seattle Restaurant

  • The Metropolitan Grill -- for celebrations only, of course!

Travel

  • South Africa -- I absolutely loved it; it's a beautiful country full of beautiful people

Would you rather have a tiger tail or tiger stripes?

Tiger stripes! I think a tail would get me in trouble and stripes would let me camouflage myself a bit sometimes.

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