SAN ANTONIO — When you first step into Mr. Tim McMeans’ classroom, no matter where your eye lands, images of all colors and textures stare back at you.
“Art in so many ways is about legacy. You know it’s going to continue on even after you are gone.”
You can hear the sound of art in the making because It’s a place where many artists are made.
“I care about them,” McMeans said. “It’s the idea they all have potential. Every single one of them and the idea they can in some way tap into and do something they didn’t know they can do.”
This small classroom at East Central High School holds Mr. McMean's heart and has been home to his art for 19 years.
"You walked in and saw how quiet they were and very reserved. But this gives them a chance to show their voice, what their life is about and what they believe in. "
From Freshmen to Seniors, the art his students produce is as dynamic as their personalities and reflects who they are.
"I want to go to art school,” Elizabeth Caisado said, “He definitely was an inspiration for that.” Elizabeth is preparing to graduate in a few months.
“He teaches us to incorporate professional work into our art and since he’s a professional artist he knows what he’s doing.”
Mr. McMeans drew his own inspiration from his brother when he was just 6 years old. "That's because I was watching my older brother draw and he took the time to show me how to do it."
And what started as doodling over the years turned into a skill.
"When I left high school and I had the decision to make, do you want to be an artist or do you want to be a teacher? and I said why can't I be both?" And so McMeans became both.
He is a professional artist with work displayed at galleries around Texas and Wyoming. But his journey started at this very same school, as a young student teacher.
His passion for education is just as powerful as his love for Art. He encourages his students to express themselves using all creative avenues.
“I think it’s important to have conversations and talking to them and if they’re willing to open up. You have to see where they are coming from. And it lets you into the other side of society and reality. Some of it is scary but it’s important to know where they are coming from and what they are doing.”
Students in his classroom learn different techniques. “This fabric,” McMeans showed us, “was something discarded in a bin and I picked it up. It’s here if you want to use It for something, then use it for something.”
McMeans continued to walk us over, pointing to a beautiful black and white drawing. He explained it’s the old school way of dipping pen in ink and drawing.
The inspiration behind his student’s artwork, McMeans said, was her family. “This is her little sister. She’s outside reading and a cat jumped in the shot.”
Many of his classroom’s art is actually based on real-life experiences.
“It’s about applying your creative voice to something and really think through a concept and see it through to fruition,” McMeans said.
“The beauty about art is we all are going to bring our own baggage to it and our interpretation of it.”
McMeans's visual arts classes have produced thousands of portraits and have made many artists. Some of his kids have gone on to become professional tattoo artists, others are custom shoe designers and some are just down the hallway from him.
“We’ve had quite a few teachers come out of this department and now one of my former students is a teacher and I get to call her a colleague,” McMeans said,
“That’s the wonderful part of this job. I get to see them continue to grow and continue to pursue their passion and their dreams.”
Senior Chris Sandoval credits Mr. McMeans for helping him prepare for college. Because of him, Sandoval says he plans on majoring in Art. He started in Mr. McMeans’ classroom as a freshman four years ago and moved on to his advanced classes.
“He’s like a best friend to us,” Sandoval said, “He helped me pick what my career will be and just encourages me to keep pushing. Just go with what my dream is which is going in the art field.”
Sandoval is one of several students who helped raise money for a special project their class has been working on. “Here we have a horse rescue operation at Osborne Stables Equine Rescue,” McMeans said as he pointed at a beautiful picture of a Horse.
“The students came up with the idea. They said what if we go down there and do some drawings of the horses and turn around and donate them back so they can be sold or auctioned off and the money goes back to provide medical care and food for the horses."
McMeans said he couldn’t be more proud of his students.
“Art in so many ways is about legacy. You know it’s going to continue on even after you are gone,” McMeans added, “it's an amazing experience to see them come in as freshmen and start to develop their skills and develop as people too which is amazing."
You can see some of McMeans personal artwork on his website or you can follow him on Instagram @timmcmeansart