Artist Lacy Wilson, former Plumas Charter School student, recently reconnected with her teacher and mentor, Taletha Washburn, during a group painting class Wilson led at Pangaea Café and Pub in Quincy.
“We love to see how our students grow and the creative ways they approach their lives after they graduate,” said Washburn, who is now the director of PCS and displays several works by Wilson in her office. “I always felt a close bond with Lacy, and it was really special to participate in her class with my daughter Lilah.”
Wilson said Washburn was the first person who gave her a chance to teach art. “Without her believing in me I may have never taught others to paint,” she said. But a teacher’s influence can also extend far beyond career choices: “Taletha inspired me to be the best version of myself,” said Wilson. “You never know how much of an impact you can make on someone’s life.”
Attending Plumas Charter School
Wilson attended PCS from ninth to 12th grade, graduating in 2010. She said she chose the charter school over traditional high school because the personalized learning approach allowed her to focus on her specific interests.
“I was able to really develop the skills I wanted to because I had the time to do so through charter school,” said Wilson. “My teachers let me be my artistic self in so many positive ways.
“When we give children the opportunity to learn what they actually want to learn, they are inspired and much more driven to do so. This was my experience.”
Wilson also took advantage of concurrent enrollment at Feather River College, taking classes in equine studies and art. “This hands-on experience really helped me in my future and helped me grow as an art teacher so much,” she said.
She said her favorite memory from PCS is painting murals; last fall she was able to continue that tradition by creating a series of positive and uplifting murals for Berrendos Middle School in Red Bluff.
“I think it’s a good thing (to add color) and it should be in every school,” Wilson told the Red Bluff Daily News. “Studies show paint colors can make people feel safer and your brains change when you see messages like you’re gorgeous and you are beautiful. It can change someone’s day.”
Dreams coming true
After graduating from PCS, Wilson worked in ceramics, painting, and teaching. She moved to Southern California and then to Red Bluff, where she currently lives with her husband and two young sons.
In addition to painting and selling her original work, Wilson teaches painting in group class settings. She leads twice-weekly classes at The Hearth Café in Red Bluff, during which students create a specified painting while also enjoying food and drinks. “I have full classes!” said Wilson, adding that she has received very positive feedback from her students.
In addition, Wilson said she plans private painting parties “continually and consistently,” setting up at events like bridal showers and corporate retreats. Wilson designs all of the paintings she leads students to create in her classes.
“I am going to be opening up a studio in the spring,” she said. “This has been a lifelong dream and I’m excited to create a space for people to find their creative skills.”
Growing from Plumas County roots
“Plumas County is an amazing place to grow up,” said Wilson. She recalled fond memories of spending summers outdoors and feeling safe in a small community where “it was comforting to know that everyone knew me.”
But as she grew older, Wilson realized that a small community can also hinder growth. “When I moved away I grew so much as a person,” she said.
Wilson’s advice for Plumas County’s youth includes moving away “for a couple of years at least. There is so much more out there in the world. There are so many experiences waiting for you. So many people, and so many things to see.”
To today’s high school students, Wilson offers these words of wisdom: “Do not let fear and doubt stop you from following your dreams. You are capable of doing anything you set your mind to.
“Do not listen to outside voices telling you you can’t. Do not listen to the doubt in your head telling you you cannot. Because I promise you, you definitely can. Don’t rush it. It all takes time and you will get there.”
To see more of Wilson’s work and learn about her classes, call 805-722-8939, visit lacywilsonart.com, or search Lacy Wilson Art on Facebook. To learn more about Plumas Charter School, call 530-283-3851, visit plumascharterschool.com, or search Plumas Charter School on Facebook.