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Jane List: Art Teacher Turned Artist

As a first-grader, Jane List knew she wanted to teach, lining up her dolls and stuffed animals for instruction. She also loved art, but she never encountered an art teacher until junior high.

“That’s the first time I realized I could be a teacher and teach art, and that was my goal from then on,” she said.

She majored in art education at Montclair State Teachers College in New Jersey, where she’d grown up. When she and her family moved to Tampa, Florida, for her husband’s job, there were no opportunities for elementary school art teachers, so List went to work at arts and craft shops, teaching drawing classes in the evenings and occasionally teaching art classes at private schools.

After another move—this time to New Hampshire—she worked as a substitute teacher and eventually landed a full-time position teaching art to grades K-6 at two schools. When she started, she traveled between classrooms, leading a train of students who vied to tote her boxed supplies.

She completed a master’s degree in integrated arts curriculum at Leslie University, giving a name to something she’d been doing all along, connecting art lessons to what students were learning in other classes. “If students were studying Native Americans, I investigated Native American art forms,” she said. “When fourth-graders were studying oceans, I taught watercolor. It’s a good way to teach art within context.”

She also focused on skills, such as how to make something look three dimensional, though this was not the way she’d been trained. “When I was in college, the premise of art education was to give students as large a piece of paper as possible, then step back and let them paint,” she said. “There’s a place for that, but it leads to a lot of frustration if they can’t make it do what they want.”

After retiring, List moved to South Carolina, buying a house across from her daughter outside of the Anderson city limits. With time for her own art, she initially devoted herself to painting hollowed-out goose eggs, an idea she got from a craft fair. They sell well during the holidays since many people use them as Christmas ornaments. At first, she used eggs from a friend, then relied on a goose farm in South Dakota that has since gone out of business. She’s currently in search of a new supplier. She has also created stained glass jewelry, pen and ink drawings, and watercolors. As much as Jane loved teaching, she equally loves creating her own work and having the time to do so.

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