Last year, we brought you the story of Russell Craig, an inmate at the state penitentary with an incredible talent for art. Now, he’s taking that ability and sharing it.

Craig has been entirely self-taught since enterting the prison 10 years ago. He’s gone from artist to art teacher, and his students are all inmates. 

“A lot of guys ask me to show them how to do this or show them how to do that. So, it just kind of seemed like it would be logical to do it,” said Craig.

This is Craig’s second class so far. He’s teaching his fellow inmates simple drawing techniques to create an outdoor scene of a home.  However Craig says teaching is not on his list of talents.

He said, “I’ve never done it before, so learning to set up a ciriculum and make sure it’s something that they’re going to want to do and have fun doing it.”

The results speak for themselves. His class has filled up with inmates eager to learn.  “It’s a good stress reliever. You know, it takes me out of here. I get to use my imagination and create,” said inmate Isaac Twitchell

Although his students are following a guide made by himself, Craig encourages them to put their own creative spin on it.

Twitchell added, “Russell’s actually pretty good as a teacher. He takes his time, he sits down, he explains to me, and then if I still don’t get it, he’ll show me.”

Craig’s specialty is painting, and he eventually wants to teach an advanced class in it. But for now, he’s sticking to the basics. 

“They get really excited when they see the difference between their first drawing and their last drawing and what they’ve learned, you know? I’ve even seen some of the guys come up here and show other guys what they’ve learned. So, that’s kind of cool,” said Craig. 

Craig mentioned to me that he wants to invite local arists to come teach classes of their own at the the state pen. If that’s you, contact Tom Petrik at 701-328-6357.