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Southwest Orange Wednesday, Oct. 30, 2019 2 years ago

Windermere Prep art teacher passes on passion for art

Andy Beauchamp is helping his students reach new heights with their artwork.
by: Tim Freed Former Managing Editor

One local art instructor doesn’t want to just see his students create — he wants them to create like professionals.

That’s the mindset of Windermere Preparatory School art teacher Andy Beauchamp, who has been encouraging creativity at a high level in his classroom since he took the teaching position about five years ago.

Beauchamp teaches Drawing and Painting I and Studio Art at the Windermere private school, and it doesn’t take long for students to realize these aren’t typical classes. Students are encouraged to bring their headphones and listen to music — whatever helps students let go while they paint or sketch away.

“Whenever they walk in here, the music is playing, and kids get to be happy,” Beauchamp said. “I play Disney songs to The Temptations. … I don’t want kids coming in here tense. I let them know, ‘Leave the stress outside — this is where you come to be free.’”

Beauchamp has had a love for art since he started drawing with pencils at age 5. Born in the Bahamas and raised in Haiti, Beauchamp’s love for the visual arts blossomed after a trip to the capital city of Port-au-Prince. 

“I noticed from the bus window all the artwork on the walls,” Beauchamp said. “That’s when I realized ‘Oh, I’m not crazy for doing what I do.’ Ever since then, it’s been in my heart.”

At age 14, Beauchamp moved to the United States to live with his sister after both of his parents died within the span of a year. Beauchamp realized quickly the work of an artist is more appreciated in the United States and that there’s more opportunity to sell art or find work.

He continued to have that same creative eye for art that he discovered looking out that bus window in Haiti. The truth is that art is everywhere, Beauchamp said.

“Everything is art, in my view,” he said. “I’m not sure if we know anything that isn’t art. The moment you start paying attention to it, all of the sudden, you start noticing. … From cars to a canvas to the buildings to how the clouds change in the sky to the weather — everything is art.”

A sense of freedom is critical in an art classroom. That also means finding freedom in making mistakes, Beauchamp said.

“I appreciate some of their mistakes more than when they try not to have a mistake,” he said. “Whenever you notice your mistakes, that means you’re learning. If you’re bad at it, I want you to be here. I’m not looking for a good artist to come to my world.”

Hanging from the wall inside Beauchamp’s classroom near the door is a yellow, red and green pastel sketch of a man looking down with an expression of focus and concentration. That man captured on paper is former Windermere Prep art teacher Brad Ramsey, who initially approached Beauchamp about teaching art five years ago. Beauchamp had been working within Windermere Prep’s boarding program for about five years but still created art on his own time.

After discovering Beauchamp was an artist, Ramsey asked Beauchamp to shadow him. He then had Beauchamp watch over a class period one day, and that grew into overseeing multiple classes.

“The day that he left during that third period, he didn’t really go anywhere — he actually was by the window watching how the kids react to me,” Beauchamp said. “He’s like, ‘Andy, kids love you, man.’ … Eventually I started having my own classroom. The ball started rolling. … It just changed my world completely.”

Beauchamp’s instruction already has led to some students spreading their creative wings. Senior Gunnar Kinney has evolved into a confident artist who now sells his work for hundreds of dollars. His latest project: a portrait of Jimi Hendrix strumming his guitar,

“Andy challenges me to be better more than anyone I know,” Kinney said. “He never allows me to settle for less, and time and time again pushes me to push the boundaries of what I think is my skill set or scope of ability.” 

Beauchamp said he’s thankful for the art classroom and the many students he’s had the chance to meet. 

“Your surroundings help you understand where you should be,” Beauchamp said. “That’s the best thing about this school.

“It’s like a home,” he said.

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Tim Freed was the managing editor for the West Orange Times & Observer and the Southwest Orange Observer. 


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