December 22, 2015

Visual Storytelling with Ms. Watson

Visual Storytelling with Ms. Watson
Ari Denlow ‘18

Curious, open-minded, creative and disciplined are the words art teacher Bethanie Watson uses to describe herself.
Watson, 30, realized that she had a talent for art as soon as she was able to hold a pencil. She came from a family who believed if you had been blessed with a particular talent, you were obligated to study and develop it. And, that’s exactly what she did.
Art to her, was and still is “visual storytelling.” While attending high school in Birmingham, Alabama, Watson was unsure of what she wanted to do career-wise, but she knew she wanted art to be involved.
“Art causes you to look at the world from someone else’s perspective,” she said. “It literally causes you to see what was in someone else’s mind. It teaches empathy and it constantly encourages me to be introspective.
“Do I think and feel the same way as a piece of art? Would I have made the same decisions if I were the artist? What made this artist arrive at this particular visual conclusion… Art is empathy and visual storytelling.”
Watson has two undergraduate degrees from Troy University and also a Masters of Fine Art from Mason Gross School of the Arts at Rutgers University. She has experience teaching art to elementary, middle school, high school and college students. Her favorite thing about teaching is when a student creates a work of art that they are proud of.
“I have a lot of students who don’t think they have skills as an artist. However, many times they work on a project and are surprised by what they can do,” she said. “The very best days are when students are surprised and pleased with what they have been able to accomplish.”
Watson also works as a professional scenic designer for theatre and television. She has traveled all over the country working in different theatres. She discovered theatre in her junior and senior years and found that working as a scenic designer for theatre met all of her career ambitions.
“I was able to draw, I got to learn about lots of different and new ideas with each play I worked on, and I was able to put my love for English and History to good use,” she said. “I did follow my dreams; I work as a professional scenic designer as well as teaching at GOA.”
As a teacher, Watson encourages her students to challenge themselves and find new ways and techniques to express themselves through art. It forces them to think and evaluate everything in new and creative ways and it gives the viewer a new perspective to consider.

“Being an artist is a lot more like being an athlete than people think,” she said. “Some people have natural ability, but the skills can definitely be taught. Just like you have to go to the gym and workout to strengthen your muscles, in art you have to practice and work to strengthen your drawing skills.”
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