Part One – Featuring Teaching Artists Julie Gilbert Pollard and Robert Campagna

How did you get started teaching art? I posed this question to teachers listed in our ArtEdu Directory on ArtCantina.com. Their varied responses are quite fascinating and empowering.

In this new article series, I’ll share their stories and insights with the hope that other working artists will be inspired to share their talents and skills … giving kids and adults a creative outlet in our tech-burdened society, and helping folks with special needs and seniors struggling with aging and possibly dementia.

One of the common threads that emerged from their stories is to ‘seize the day’: when an invitation or opportunity pops up, however small it may be, take it. Meet Julie Gilbert Pollard and Robert Campagna who did just that.

Julie Gilbert Pollard

art by Julie Gilbert Pollard

Julie Gilbert Pollard (shown in the top photo) has been teaching watercolor, oil and acrylic for over 35 years, at various venues in the United States, Canada, Italy and Portugal. When asked how she began teaching, Julie replied:

“My friend (who at that time was an acquaintance) was opening an art supply shop/art class venue and talked me into teaching painting classes at her new shop. Cynthia Ganem had seen my artwork in various venues and believed I had potential as a painting instructor. I thought she was misguided in that notion, but finally allowed her to persuade me to give it a try. All these years later I’m still conducting a weekly class at her place, Cynthia’s Art Asylum in Phoenix, Arizona.

“Cynthia’s Art Asylum holds a special place in my heart as it led to an extremely rewarding career, which has also resulted in my authoring/illustrating three books for North Light Publications (most recent: Discover Oil Painting and Watercolor Unleashed) plus nine videos for ArtistsNetwork.com. I love my painting-and-sharing job!”

Robert Campagna

Bob Campagna teaching students

Robert Campagna, a long-time photographer living in Loveland, Colorado, teaches the art of seeing and photography to students of all ages, from 3rd grade to adults. In the past 35 years, he has taught nearly 500 hands-on workshops, including how to print black/white photos in the darkroom, a rare skill in this digital age. When I asked Robert how he got started, he sent this reply:

“I started teaching art by being an autodidact in black and white photography and making my own mistakes…and understanding the process of mistake and correction. Initially I was a high school Language Arts teacher. The purpose and process of education has always been in my blood.

“In b/w photography specifically, there is a magic, and I want all students to experience that magic, and success. The key to success is to understand the process of paying attention to detail and thus knowing the path for correction. Many artists ‘create a moment;’ my skill also is to ‘know the moment.’

“As I became confident in this process, I offered my teaching skills and artistry to the Iowa Arts Council. They accepted my application, and I began a 25-year journey of teaching throughout Iowa, as well as seven other states and two other nations. Now I am sponsored by Think 360 Arts in Colorado. The magic and joy for me does not disappear.”


Well, said! May we all experience more magic and joy through creating art, whether we are teaching the classes or taking the lessons.

Are you a teaching artist? I’d love to hear how you started teaching.  Please drop me an email:  membership@artcantina.com