Students from all disciplines at Mississippi School of the Arts recently received an opportunity to chat with renowned watercolor artist Dean Mitchell in an open forum. Mitchell, a visual artist from Quincy, Florida, visited Brookhaven for the first time to be a part of the unveiling of an art piece acquisitioned by the Lincoln-Lawrence-Franklin Regional Library. The unveiling ceremony took place April 24th.
According to the Library, a grant opportunity became available through the Mississippi Arts Commission that allowed the Library Board of Directors a chance to purchase a high-quality piece of artwork for public display. The grant application included Mitchell coming to Brookhaven to talk with students at MSA, whose campus borders the public library. “He was very excited to have the opportunity to come and speak to high school art students” said Helen Lynch, a member of the Library Board of Trustees.
Mitchell shared his life story as a growing artist with students in Lampton Auditorium, the campus’ first building to be renovated in 1995, prior to the inception of Mississippi School of the Arts. “I thought I was good until I went to art school and was surrounded by many with the same passion. That’s when I learned I had to step it up,” he said. “Many said I wouldn’t make it, but I worked hard and they started seeing my work getting better and better.”
Mitchell gave several accounts of his struggles growing up and how his vision hasn’t always aligned with public perception as a black artist. Mitchell learned to navigate his way through changes in social status and society over decades. During the hour and a half session, students asked questions related to his profession and how to make themselves more marketable. “Enter as many contests as you can, especially if you know you have a good chance. You never know,” he said. Over his lifespan, Mitchell has entered thousands of contests worldwide and has won numerous prizes that contributed to his portfolio. Mitchell once painted portraits for $25.00. Now his paintings, such as the one acquisitioned by the Library, are worth over $20,000.00.
A graduate of the Columbus College of Art & Design in Columbus, Ohio. Mitchell is well known for his figurative works, landscapes and still lifes. In addition to watercolors, he is accomplished in other mediums, including egg temperas, oils and pastels. Mitchell has been featured in numerous publications, including the New York Times, Christian Science Monitor, American Artist, Artist Magazine, Fine Art International and Art News.
He has received the American Watercolor Society Gold Medal, Allied Artist of American Gold Medal in Watercolor and Oil, Thomas Moran Award from the Salmagundi Club in New York, Remington Professional League, and for three years in a row the Best in Show Award from the Mississippi Watercolor Society Grand National Competition. In 2004 and 2007, he received the Autry National Center Award for Watercolor at the Masters of the American West Fine Art Exhibition and sale. Mitchell is a member of several professional societies, including the American Watercolor Society and the National Watercolor Society.
“Brookhaven is a beautiful town and Mississippi School of the Arts is wonderful. I want to bring my kids here to visit,” Mitchell said.
Visit Dean Mitchell at www.deanmitchellstudio.com