Alumnus JOHN TILLEY’s art professors taught him techniques in painting and printmaking and passed on to him a love of teaching art that he continues today. Tilley (BFA 1961, MA 1964) has taught watercolor classes for more than forty years, through UA’s Osher Lifelong Learning Institute, Shelton State Community College and most recently through Tuscaloosa County Park and Recreation Authority and the City of Columbus (Miss.) Recreation and Parks Department. He has also taught mixed media workshops and particularly enjoys demonstrating painting techniques to elementary school students.
And Tilley still finds time to paint himself. He has won so many awards for his watercolor and mixed media paintings, that, he says, “I don’t know exactly how many awards I have received over the years but I do know that I have been honored with over 50 one-man shows through the years…and my works are in private collections all over this county and abroad.”
Tilley had had a career before teaching that also involved sharing and passing on art techniques and encouraging creativity in others. He was Director of Volunteer Service and Public Affairs Officer for almost 35 years at the Tuscaloosa Veteran’s Administration Medical Center. He said, “I also helped plan and conduct many special events and was in charge of all gifts and donations while at the medical center. My first ten years there were spent as an art therapist where I worked with psychiatric and substance abuse clients. This was one of my favorite jobs.”
Tilley received the bachelor of fine arts degree in commercial art, an area that has changed dramatically from its original form. He continued his interest in graphic design by concentrating in printmaking for the master’s degree. He said, “I enjoyed doing etchings, preparing lithographs and woodcuts. Richard Zoellner [who founded the printmaking area in art and art history] was an excellent instructor in these areas.
“Some of my instructors at the University were Richard Brough, Richard Zoellner, Howard Goodson, Jack Granata, Alvin Sella, Joe Bolt, Tom West, Frank Engle and Dr. Ted Klitsky.”
“[Richard] Brough was my favorite instructor, since he taught watercolor and other commercial art courses…Mr. Brough taught calligraphy, designing brochures, ads, book covers, boxes for various products, posters, etc. I loved his courses. I remember that we spent two entire classes designing our signature. I still use this same signature for my works today. He was a fantastic artist and a fantastic person.”
Tilley’s art professors modeled a love of creating and teaching that Tilley is now passing on to his own art students. He said, “One of my favorite things is going to schools and doing demonstrations for students, especially elementary students. When I am doing demonstrations, I often remember techniques that I learned while in school.”