Adult Arts Feature Teacher: Life Lessons with Jeff Ridgway

Jeff Ridgway has been at the Lawrence Arts Center since 1993, making him one of our longest-teaching instructors. With his legendary sense of humor, Ridgway is student favorite.

Ridgway enjoys teaching drawing, but he sees the process as more than simply utilizing a medium to create an image.

“Anatomy and life drawing help us to understand ourselves and other humans, not just physically but emotionally and empathically as well,” he said. “With practice and diligence an artist can learn to see a reflection of themselves in their drawings of the model. That is how we learn to make our own art.”

Ridgway said he sees value in copying the Masters as practice and that a lot can be learned by doing so. However, he said, the goal is for every artist to find a way to express themselves.

“As I see it, our goal at the Lawrence Arts Center is to help our fellow artists to discover their own voice,” he said. “As an artist myself, I can’t think of a better gift to the future.”

This summer, Jeff’s Open Model class meets from 1:30 p.m.-3:30 p.m. on Sundays, August 2-23.

Class Description:

The class provides an opportunity for skilled artists to draw a model each week using their choice of media.  The models will do quick gesture poses at the beginning of each session and then a longer pose for the group. This class is not for beginners. Enrollees must provide their own art supplies. Must be 18 to enroll. Photographic devices not allowed.

We hope to hold this class in person, while implementing health and safety measures. We will be limiting the class size and communicating with students regarding these new procedures.


Ridgway shared one of his more fowl jokes:

I was driving down a country road a while back, going at least 30 miles per hour when I noticed a cloud of dust gaining on me. I sped up to almost 40 mph but it kept getting closer. Soon it was passing me and to my surprise it looked like a rooster with what appeared to be three legs instead of two! Well, it looked over at me and sped up, leaving me in a cloud of dust and skittered up this driveway on the right.

I followed the rascal but couldn’t catch up to it. By the time we arrived at the farmhouse a very nice older lady was sitting on the porch while the fastest chicken I ever saw disappeared behind the barn.

“Pardon me Ma’am but was that your rooster that just whizzed by here?”

“Yes sir.”

“Am I mistaken or did that cock have three legs?” I asked.

“It does, got a whole barnyard of them out back. My three boys were always fighting over who got the chicken legs on Sunday so I did some selective breeding and came up with these roosters.”

I asked, “What do they taste like?”

“Don’t know” she said, It’s been three years and we haven’t caught one yet.”

If you enjoy drawing and a few jokes, enroll in Open Model for the summer! Limited spots are available to promote social distancing.