What it takes: Teaching is an art


October 7, 2019

Oakley Brazil and Mrs. Erin Radke pose for a picture in the NR-S art room

This month I want to introduce readers to Mrs. Erin Radke, the new art teacher at New Rockford-Sheyenne School. This is a job that she has wanted to do since she was five years old and she couldn't be happier. "I'm living the dream!" she says.

Originally from Springdale, Ark., Mrs. Radke says that one reason she moved to North Dakota was because she LOVES snow. She now lives in Carrington with her husband Marc Radke, but she will be moving to New Rockford this fall.

Mrs. Radke believes that anyone can become an artist because there is no wrong way of doing art. When I asked her what she liked best about teaching, she said that she enjoyed seeing how creative kids can be.

Mrs. Radke lets students experiment with their art, but also gives help when needed. In a recent sunflower project, she introduced the class to multi-media art, which included colored pencils, crayons, paint and markers. It took a long time, but it was fun.

She has worked in education for over 15 years, and has 25 years of experience in art and photography. She even used to own and operate an art studio where she offered free after-school art programs and classes. When I asked what she looked forward to while teaching her students this year, she said, "I think my favorite thing to teach is about the different artists and why they are so different in the art they make."

The way she chooses artists that she teaches about is simple and brilliant. She selects artists who have a birthday in that month. Most recently we learned about Italian painter Caravaggio, who was born Sept. 29, 1571.

When I asked her about her favorite artist or art piece, she said, "Vincent van Gogh's 'Starry Night' because it has so many vibrant colors and it's really fun to paint and recreate."

I did some research to learn more about van Gogh and have just a few things to share. Van Gogh made 900 paintings, most of them over the course of nine years. He began painting in his home country of Holland when he was 27. Many of these paintings were done with dark colors. For instance, "The Potato Eaters" gives you a sense of sorrow among a family as they share a meal of potatoes. It wasn't until he was older in France that van Gogh used the bright colors he became known for. He even painted sunflowers!

Did you know van Gogh only sold one painting in his whole life? It was "The Red Vineyard" in 1888, just two years before he died.

I sure am looking forward to learning about so many fascinating artists this year with Mrs. Radke. Even more, I can't wait to make some really marvelous art. The elementary art students will be showing our artwork this spring in a showcase, and we'd love to have you there!


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