Bill Colburn inspires his students in new ways

Back from sabbatical, Colburn made artwork that captures attention


Submitted by Bill Colburn

One of the variety of pieces that Bill Colburn completed during his sabbatical. Colburn hoped to inspire people to take a minute and view his work, and to grab the attention of any aged audience member.

Bill Colburn has returned from his sabbatical, ready to share the valuable lessons he learned with his time off. His inspiration to take a sabbatical? An opportunity to travel abroad. Colburn, family in tow, visited many local museums, and also travelled to many abroad in Chicago, London, Washington D.C., Fort Worth, and Houston.

On their first trip they visited the Rothko Chapel in Houston, and Colburn states, “That room kind of started me on this quest that formulated as the sabbatical evolved, which is art that makes people quiet.” The idea came to him as his four year daughter sat transfixed in the room, content to silently admire the artwork that covered the walls for as long as she was allowed. With this experience in mind Colburn continued his trips, and as he journeyed he refines the idea to “Artwork that intrinsically leads people to contemplation, even a four year old.”

He used his time at home to explore this idea, as well as to explore many other projects. After months of searching, Colburn was able to find his dream studio, and it turned out to be in his own home. He shares, “It’s so funny to realize that I had a good space right in front of my nose,” and after this realization he quickly transformed it into his own studio. He used this space to explore his work, continuing a series he’s been working on for eight years, working on collaborations with his daughter, and expanding his work into portrait painting.

While the “realistic portrait style” is one less familiar to Colburn, he pushed himself to paint two commonly known Blake figures whose identities he will not reveal at this time. Now that he is back at Blake, Colburn aims to bring his new ideas as well as his refreshed energy to the arts environment. With student participation, he’d love to turn the gallery into a truly quiet space during an exhibit, mirroring the environment of the Rothko Chapel.

Although his sabbatical gave him the opportunity to visit new places and work on his own art, it also took him away from his teaching job at Blake, one he feels very grateful to have. Colburn explains, “At dinner I have stories to tell every day about what happens at school, and dinner was pretty quiet for the last eight months.”