Russell Weedman is an art professor at The University of the Cumberlands in Williamsburg, Kentucky. He has spent his whole life creating and teaching art. He says, “There was never anything else for me. Art was it. It found me and seized me and took me to where I am today.”
He’s not some amateur either; he has earned a B.A. in art at Centre College in Danville, Kentucky in 1985. He went on to study painting and drawing at the State University of New York (SUNY) at Stony Brook to receive his MFA (Master of Fine Arts) just four years later.
With the influences of his father, mother and grandmother, Weedman was able to see his own love for art even when he didn’t want to. He wasn't exactly one for following in the footsteps of his family. He wanted to carve his own path.
“I was young and knew I was good at art but was really in denial. I wanted something to do with architecture. I wanted to design really cool and different buildings.” In this time in his life, he learned that although he didn’t think he wanted to follow in their footsteps, his heart led him that way anyways; his career with art was inevitable.
Weedman has now been teaching at UC for 25 years and counting, since 1991, working 10 of them with his father who was also an art professor at UC.
As a young artist he started off with crayons and pencils when he was 12 years old and before he knew it, he was surpassing his classmates and became very above average and stayed that way, even throughout college, Weedman stated.
As an artist, Weedman has been very successful in his work, his piece "Rise," which is a mixed media piece on canvas, is really popular and successful. It’s located at the Heike Pickett Gallery in Versailles, Kentucky.
Weedman’s art is displayed in galleries all throughout Kentucky, Indiana, and Virginia. He is an artist full time; either teaching it, practicing it, sketching, or working on his own personal work.
He has also accumulated multiple awards and recognitions as well for his own work. The most meaningful to him was the Fellowship award from the Kentucky Arts Council. Weedman stated, “It was a bigger group of people competing for the award and they generally get some professionals from outside the area to help decide on the recipients.”
“It’s pretty great to have a professor sitting alongside you working on the same assignment as you and helping you as you go along,” said Olla Drane, who has Weedman as an adviser. She elaborated and said, “It’s not every day you have a professor who is going to sit down and take a test with you, let alone spend two and a half hours on art projects with us.”
For an artist, there’s always going to be someone you look up to, someone who you aspire to be like, or to live up to potentially. For Weedman, these artists were Phillip Gutan and Arshile Gorky. He says, “Their courage and sheer inventiveness as image makers is something I think about and aspire to.”
Weedman works with different types of mediums but his favorite would be oil on canvas. He also prefers to do abstract work versus other types. He says, “For me, there is something necessary and challenging about abstract and non-representational art. We live in an age where we are inundated with photographic visual information and I crave something that is made more with the hand and mind.”
Art major and sophomore, Shelby Householder, says, “It’s like working next to a Van Goh when he is sitting next to you. He’s amazing and I couldn’t be more pleased to be taught by him.”
Jacob Heeg, UC junior, art major says, “He really knows what art is supposed to be like, the true spirit, whether or not you’re actually accomplishing that. He also likes to cover his criticism up with compliments because he sees the best first and foremost. He will actually show you what he wants done versus making you wing it on your own.”
Weedman has gained a reputation for being, some would say, the best professor he could be because he shows his students exactly what he’s trying to teach them.
When comparing teaching college to any other lower level, Weedman insisted, “There is more autonomy in college level. Teaching high school wouldn’t be free enough for expression. You have to follow government policies. I like working with younger people, college students because it keeps me in touch with them and it’s important to talk to younger people about art, to get them exposed like they hadn’t been before.”
Weedman is an artist who not only teaches but lives the life of an artist full time; devoting hours and hours of his daily life to doing art.
Featured above is multiple pieces by Weedman using mixed medias to acrylics on wood.