Artwalk 2018 Location: Athens Flatts Parking Lot, 2306 2nd Avenue N
“From Teaching Art Class to Painting Jazz”
A typical night for thirty-seven year old Ahmad Austin can be stated in one word: relaxation. In fact, most of his paintings are done at night when his inspiration comes from the sultry sounds of John Coltrane, a popular jazz legend. When Austin ends his workday as an art teacher, he begins a work of exquisite art that evokes excitement and energy. Austin states, “It’s almost indescribable how I feel when I’m painting. It’s as if time doesn’t exist. After coming home from an intense day working with elementary students, Austin shows us how he goes from teaching art class to painting jazz.
Austin was born and reared in Birmingham, Alabama. His interest in art began at an early age as did his reputation as a good art student among many students during grade school. At age 11, he was hired for his first commission work, which happened to be a drawing of the late, great Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. At age 12 he was enrolled in the prestigious Alabama School of Fine Arts with a concentration in visual arts. Throughout his school years, many teachers summoned his assistance in decorating their classrooms to liven up the place with beautiful works of art. During his junior year at Huffman High School, he won second place in a statewide high school art competition. Upon graduating in 1995, Austin continued his education at the well-known Alabama A & M University in Huntsville, Alabama where he earned his Bachelor of Science degree in Art Education in the year 2000. While at Alabama A & M, he gained skills not only in drawing, but also in photography, painting, glassblowing, and ceramics.
After graduating, Austin was hired with the Birmingham Board of Education where he continues to teach art to today’s youth. Currently, he teaches at South Shades Crest Elementary where he continues to help students achieve recognition for their creativity and talent in art education. Austin states “I consider myself one of the fortunate ones in the teaching profession because not only am I able to teach and encourage my students, but they do the same for me. I am inspired and intrigued by their creative works of art and it just doesn’t any better than that!”
Austin has participated in several group shows and art competitions all across Alabama. He is currently showing his work Belfast, Ireland, making him an international artist. In the past Austin’s paintings consisted of abstracts filled with pastel colors. Now, it has evolved into magical paintings that capture the essence of jazz music. Perhaps this can be accredited to Austin’s father, who, like Austin, is an avid admirer of jazz music. Austin’s father played the trombone in his earlier years, while Austin chose to play the saxophone and the piano. As a toddler, Austin can remember listening to jazz around the house or in the car. Although he enjoys music, his passion truly is art. Austin has now committed himself to producing his new series entitled “Jazz it Up”. The artworks in the series consist of images ranging from one person playing a sax to a quartet playing a bass, a horn instrument, piano, and a drum. This series is intended to capture the feelings that jazz music evokes when one is listening to or playing jazz music. Austin also focuses on great jazz musicians such as Thelonious Monk, Charlie Parker, John Coltrane, Miles Davis and the likes. Here he paints each musician on cardboard with gauche or on music sheets, making the work a distinctive and unique work of art. In all his works you will see a collection of wonderful paintings of musicians playing jazz music with the usage of bold colors and unique brush strokes to a dark gauche paint of jazz masters. Austin feels this will help convey the feelings of excitement, calmness, and energy, similar to that of jazz music. Austin has touched the hearts of many with his artwork and continues to strive for excellence.