By Emily Bennett, Staff Writer
Local artist and UMF facilities maintenance worker, Robert Stratton, recently held a watercolor painting lesson for students in the Landing.
Most students around campus know Robert Stratton by “Allen,” who works the second shift in the Student Center. Little do they know that he is an artist on the side and has sold his artwork to a variety of people, including President Foster.
Student Life Program Coordinator Lauren Kennison, ran the art night. “It went really well, the students who attended really enjoyed themselves,” said Kennison.
Although the 14 slots that were available were not filled, the night was still a success. “There were fewer people there than I expected but it worked out really well because it allowed one-on-one instruction with Rob,” said Sara Quimby, a senior at UMF who attended the event.
On display were more than a dozen of Stratton’s paintings. “His artwork was really impressive and a lot of it was nature themed, which I loved,” said Quimby. “The style of it I could really see hanging in my house.”
Stratton presented his artwork to the students as he taught the techniques he used in his own paintings. Stratton said his passion is in painting watercolor landscapes. He first got into painting watercolor fifteen years ago. “My wife inspired me and bought me a watercolor course. That’s all it took, one step led to another, ” said Stratton. “I had been just doodling for a long time and am now trying to start it up more.”
His wife, June Stratton, came to the event to support and assist him. “I was accepted to Portland School of Art but met my wife, fell in love and had a child so I didn’t go,” said Stratton.
Stratton sells his paintings mostly by word of mouth. Stratton said he was very nervous because this was his first time teaching an art class.
Out of the variety of strategies Stratton taught, each student was drawn to certain ones. “My favorite was making birch trees with a razor blade,” Quimby said.
Kennison was very pleased with the event. “We plan on asking him back,” said Kennison. The event went from 7:30 to 10:00 with all of the participants working until the last minute.
As part of the class, you get to take home all of the brushes, paper, and paint palette provided to you. “I was really surprised we got to take home all of the materials we used and there is a better chance I am going to try out what we learned because I have everything on hand,” said Quimby.
Strattons’ story and knowledge inspired many there. He wants students to find the love for painting that he once did, through an art class. “Go to a gallery, if you see a piece that moves you take the time to enjoy it and look at it,” said Stratton.
Stratton is a familiar face around UMF and loves sharing his passion with students. “He was so knowledgeable and was passionate about painting,” said Kennison.