Exploring Our Creative Side: Profile – Art Teacher Ailysh Cooper

Hey, friends!

Last week I profiled a graphic novel project that I was woking on a few years ago, and today it’s my pleasure to profile high school art teacher Ailysh Cooper.

​Ailysh grew up in the Chicago suburbs and went to Northern Illinois University for her degree in Art and Design Education.  Ailysh wanted to be an art teacher since she was 12 and just finished the second year of her dream job: teaching high school art.  She loves all kinds of media but is particularly fond of painting and drawing.  She also crochets on the side and tries to make her own patterns.  Her love of crochet and fiber arts led her to start the Stitching Spartans at Oak Lawn Community High School, where students learn to knit, crochet, and embroider together.  She also enjoys indoor gardening (she currently has over 30 plants) and spending time with her husband, family/friends, and cat.  She’s into music from Daft Punk, Coldplay, and the 80s.

YouTube: Ms. Cooper’s Art Class

You can check out her awesome YouTube page by clicking the link above. It’s a great place to chill and learn some cool art skills for all levels! Sit down with the fam and learn how to draw a maze or stipple some interesting designs! Give her a follow!

EK: That’s a great YouTube channel with lots cool art tips and tricks!  Anything you’d like to tell us about it?  What other types of tutorials are you thinking about doing?  What can subscribers expect with a follow?

AC: ​Having a YouTube channel is a cool experience.  When I first started making videos, it was actually because I was losing my voice that day and it was better to have a video than to say things over and over.  Once I started putting them up on YouTube, it was fun and I wanted to see how far I could go.  When I started seeing how many people outside my classroom were watching, I felt like it was important to keep making videos and learn how to make them better.  I didn’t know how fun it would be.  To anyone thinking of starting a channel, it can be as easy or as involved as you want it to be and the videos will still be worth watching, I think. 

This summer, I would love to expand on some popular topics like stippling and drawing with ballpoint pens, while adding some new explorations like painting with food materials or sketching out in nature or in parks.  It’s important that students and other viewers see me exploring and trying new things outside of my comfort zone too.  Subscribers know that my videos already cover a range of skills and they see something a bit different in each video, whether it’s a basic skill, a go-to doodle, or something I’m experimenting with. 

EK: Your channel is proof that you like to draw, paint, and create on the regular.  How are you planning on staying artistically active during summer break?  Any big creative plans? 

AC: ​I have a lot of ideas for this summer.  We’ll see if I get to them all!  I’ve been trying to figure out how to combine my love of crochet with painting and learn how to make lace.  It would be interesting to see how to put them together and make a piece that still shows unity.  Right now I’m trying to generate the crochet parts and have a few small things started.  I’ve also begun gathering reference photos of clouds to draw and paint, mostly because clouds are fun and an interesting subject.  It’s fun to learn the science behind them. 

This next idea is a challenge and will take some time for sure, but I’d love to start illustrating some of my writing.  I have a long story in my head that I’m still working on writing but I want to research graphic novels more and figure out what my style could be.  I’ve only committed myself to figuring out a style this summer since writing will also take a long time. 

EK: How has the quarantine affected your ability to create?  Have you found inspiration in it?  Has there been a lack of creative motivation? 

AC: The quarantine has given me time to create and helped me to organize creative spaces in my home.  This is the first time that I’ve had a significant chunk of creative time in this location and it’s good to have a space finally ready to go.  The quarantine itself has helped me grow as a person but hasn’t given me any particular artistic ideas.  I’ve had a lot of time for ideas and have too many to work on right now, but none of them have to do with the quarantine.  I think down the road it could influence my art, depending how long it lasts and how it changes life. 

EK: Tell me about one artist you’d like to sit down with and have a conversation with about anything.  Living or dead.

AC: ​This is a challenging question! The answer changes day to day, but most days I think I would choose Bob Ross.  I feel like we could talk about art or life in general.  He is such a cool guy and seems so positive.  Especially in a challenging time like this one, he would probably have some good advice.  

EK: I can see that! Final question…If you were making a film, and you could pick one music artist or group to create the soundtrack, who would it be and why?

AC: ​There are so many artists to choose from.  Daft Punk is my top pick because they can create a big range of moods and emotions for different scenes.  They did an awesome job with the Tron: Legacy soundtrack and they strike me as good collaborators.  They pay attention to the visuals that go with their music on their regular studio albums too.  I think I also just want to meet them because they’re mysterious and I’m a huge fan!

Who would do the soundtrack of your movie?

EK: I’ve gone through a few over the past couple of years from Cake to OK GO, but right now, I’m leaning toward Jack White. I love the tone he creates in his projects, and like Daft Punk, the high octane energy is intoxicating. I’d want to make a movie that was just cool. Let the soundtrack be another character…

I want to thank Ailysh for her time! It’s cool to see teachers so involved in their craft outside of the classroom. And it’s my hope to feature those types of teachers here whenever I can. Now go give her YouTube channel a follow, and learn how to art!

Happy teaching!



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