Jamie Lee Bull attended the University of Georgia, intending to study marine biology, but things changed.
It wasn’t until taking a photography class, followed by a painting class, while working toward her undergraduate degree, that Bull realized just how much she loved art.
She said she quickly realized that as an artist she would be able to combine all of her interests and passions, which included birds, plants, humans and their sexuality.
“I just figured out that as an artist you get to combine all of those things,” she said. “So I didn’t have to be an expert in biology, I could dabble in biology or anthropology or plant life or birds.”
She received a bachelor of arts in drawing and painting in 1999 from the university, along with a minor in anthropology, then returned to same school in 2010 and received a master of arts degree in painting.
“And you know the more I learned about each subject, the more it would inform my practice. It would inform my paintings,” she said.
The lesson she learned about the endless opportunities art has to offer is exactly what she is conveying to her students. Bull’s current students are taking a water color painting class through UGA Costa Rica’s Art, Astronomy & Journalism Maymester program.
“I think it’s important for them to find inspiration in everything that they do, whether it’s going to the grocery store, whether it is traveling to Central America, whether it is seeing a white-faced Capuchin staring down at you from a Swiss-cheese tree,” she said.
“It’s important for them to be aware that something special has happened to them and for them to really digest those ideas, think about them, and then to know that they can use them in their artwork.”
Anna Baldwin, 21, a senior and jewelry major at UGA, is currently taking Bull’s water color class and likes unstructured challenges the course provides.
“This class is teaching me to trust my creative instinct and just paint instead of planning out a painting,” Baldwin said.
But the flow of inspiration from instructor to student isn’t just a one-way street.
Bull said that she gets inspiration from her students each day.
“They use the paint and brushes in a way that I would never think to use, ” she said. “So it really inspires me to keep trying new techniques. I learn from them.”
Her students say that Bull has created a classroom experience that makes their inspiration and creativity flow effortlessly.
She likened that experience to a think tank.
“Right now I have these seven students and we’re all working to solve the same problem,” Bull said.”Today we were thinking about nature as big shapes and big planes of color,
“And those seven students working with that same idea each produced something entirely their own.”
Those students say that Bull makes it easy for them to succeed in getting in touch with their creativity and to find the abstractions in nature that she does.
One of her students at San Luis, Henry Schunk, 21, a political science and history double major at UGA, had done no art painting since elementary school.
“I knew nothing about painting,” he said. “The reason I wanted to take the course was because it’s so outside what I’m normally working with. To learn gradually has been therapeutic and peaceful. You see form and shape in a more diverse way.”
Bull takes great pleasure in the success of her students.
“To watch my students work with one idea and each produce something so unique and so different one from the other is just amazing to me,” she said.
She said it illustrates the notion that there is no end to art’s possibilities.
“There are a million ways to solve every art problem,” she said. “There’s a million paintings you can make that can be unique and successful.”
Her students are learning to grasp that concept.
Blog post by Marley Holder, UGA Art, Astronomy and Journalism Study Abroad Student