Dual Perspectives: Those who can, teach

by Karen Phillips


At 8 years of age, Scott Raynor’s father was diagnosed with Lou Gehrig’s disease. Scott recalls how he would have to stay inside to watch his dad while his friends went out to play. Eventually this led him to art. Scott took to pencil and paper or paint and canvas to pass the time and help cope with his dad’s worsening condition.

After receiving his MFA at the UNCG, Scott became an art teacher there before moving over to High Point University about five years ago. Scott is now the interim director of the School of Art & Design at HPU, and a practicing painter and printmaker. He began his professional art career by creating 4-foot wooden heads — colorless, deathlike and eerie in nature, with a Dali-esque quality, an outlet for the visions of his father deteriorating in the hospital with tubes and wires coming out of every part of his body.

Scott takes many of the objects that he’s painted over the years, like vases or teakettles, and combines them with an array of color into one work. He sees his art as similar to jazz music — playful and lyrical, with objects flowing and melting into one another in harmonizing colors. He says he’s surprised that his work sells as well as it does; a 30-by-44-inch painting of his will sell anywhere from $1,500 to $2,000.

Having studied abroad for some of his MFA coursework, Scott wanted to offer his students the opportunity to enhance their artistic mindset with more in-depth cultural experiences. He decided to begin a program where he would take his art students on a trip to Europe over the summer to further their appreciation of art. While the trips were educational and experimental in nature, students are students, and “they don’t always behave,” Scott chuckles.

Getting wind of these art-centric European trips, people in the community kept asking if they could attend as well.

About three years ago, Scott decided to open his own travel agency called Insightful Travels and Tours. In 2010, he scheduled the first annual trip for adults interested in traveling with scholars for an authentic European experience. They get to study art, work on their own art or gain a deeper understanding of art while they experience the culture of a new country. Next summer, Scott will take his group on a 10-day trip to Tuscany.

Two years ago, in light of his artistic contributions to the community, Scott was awarded the opportunity to travel to Italy as an artist-in-residence at the Scuola di Ars Grafica, Venezia. He was given his own studio and time to pour his heart into his work with the advantage of a different cultural background from which to draw inspiration.

While on a train in Italy, Scott took out a sketchpad and drew the image he saw in front of him: empty seats, tinted windows, an exit door in front of an empty aisle. He then began to write the thoughts that came to his mind as he looked at his sketch and his environment. His thought process led to an image of the gears underneath the train. He drew those. Scott suggests everyone go through this process of sketching, stream-ofconsciousness writing and sketching again. This, he says, is how great works emerge.

Having the dual perspective of a teacher and an artist, Scott notes that most students and aspiring artists he sees don’t have enough drive. He advises that those studying fine arts figure out something they’re interested in and do it every day. He says, “Work hard, draw every day, and always keep a sketchbook with you.” We are immersed in a digital environment, but Scott still believes in the power of a pencil and paper.


Faculty Exhibit, Oct. 22 Sechrest Gallery, HPU Campus