“Lawrence has helped me see things differently in my artwork. He doesn’t try to be superior and talk to us [students] like we’re just kids. It’s kind of hard to put into words how he’s impacted me as a person because he’s very inspiring and influential, and unlike any teacher I’ve ever had,” says Emma Sassaman, who is taking advanced art class this year.
Timothy Lawrence is one of Oyster River’s three art teachers. He teaches Drawing and Painting 1 and 2, Advanced Art, Senior Studio, and various pottery classes.
Lawrence spent his years after college working as a professional artist and illustrating for many famous people and companies. He decided to switch to teaching after realizing that although being self employed allowed him financial and organizational freedom.
“I was making great money, but I was wondering, why was I doing this? Was I just here on the planet to make money it wasn’t serving my soul. I would illustrate a magazine cover, than see the magazine in the garbage later. I thought to myself, am I just making art that’s going to be thrown away?” says Lawrence.
Throughout his years at ORHS Mr.Lawrence has helped many students hone their artistic skills.
“Mr.Lawrence helped me become more confident in my artwork. He made making art more enjoyable and a class I looked forward to going to.” says Olivia Clark, an ORHS graduate.
To sign up for Advanced Art, students must complete either Drawing and Painting 1 & 2 or Pottery 1 & 2, so Mr.Lawrence will often teach kids from sophomore year all the way through senior year. Alongside his colleagues Mr.Lawrence has prepared many a portfolio for students hoping to attend college. Mr.Lawrence studied art at Pratt Institute in New York, as well as at the University of New Hampshire.
“What makes teaching rewarding is being with students. Most of your teachers are here because they enjoy being around students. This is where we’re energized, this is what feeds our soul. There’s a lot of busywork and paperwork that takes away from our time spent with students.” says Lawrence.
“I’ve really grown as an artist under his supervision, but the way he really impacted me to accept mistakes as a necessary learning experience in art but also in life.
Many students have graduated Oyster River remembering art as one of their favorite classes. Olivia Clark, who now attends Pace University in Manhattan took 3D Design with Mr.Lawrence the spring of her senior year.
“The best thing about Mr.Lawrence is his honesty. He always gives his honest opinion about everything. I think that helps students grow as artists. He is also absolutely hilarious,” she said.
Bella Dempsey, who is a currently taking both Pottery 1 and Drawing and Painting 1, echos Clark’s praise.
I think the best things about him are his humor and his honest skills. He has helped me so much in the past few weeks, I can already tell that I am going to finish his classes as a better artist and person.
Multiple students interviewed spoke highly of Mr.Lawrence’s honesty and how it has helped them grow as artists.
“He’s always willing to offer help but will push each individual the appropriate amount. Mr.Lawrence is one of the best teachers I have ever had.” says Abbey Halloran. (‘17). Halloran has known Lawrence since her sophomore year.
“Mr.Lawrence has helped me grow as an artist and as a person, he has taught me that you HAVE to fail but if you’re going to you might as well give it all you’ve got. And if you fail enough, you WILL succeed eventually, and learn from it tremendously.”
“He has helped me in ways I’m still discovering, I’m not afraid to be me in class, he accepts anyone and everyone for who they truly are. He allows you to create whatever art you want (within reason obviously). I always look forward to his class and he is a teacher I will remember for the rest of my life.” says Halloran.
Written by Jane Robinson