Impact Makers

Wildlife Artist Keeps Students Coming Back

By Michael Moliterno
NEW CASTLE, Pa. — With a pale fall sunlight filling the classroom, all attention is on Jocelyn Beatty and the lesson she’s giving.

“This will take you about 15 minutes to fill in,” she says, demonstrating to the class how to paint individual kernels on an ear of corn.

This is the water color class at the Hoyt Art Center, which Beatty has been teaching for 37 years, and which, on this day, is overflowing into a second room.

Beatty sits facing the classroom as she paints a fall bouquet, a mirror above her head reflecting the work her hands are doing so the class can see. 

Still, many leave their seats and gather around her to see the lesson up close.

“Anybody can do it,” she says, before noticing a woman standing nearby, a woman who clearly is waiting to speak with her.

“Can I help you? You look familiar,” Beatty says, reaching out her hand.

“I just wanted to say hi,” replies Jill Allerton as she shakes Beatty’s hand and smiles.

Allerton tells her that she took Beatty’s class a couple of times in 1996.

Beatty quickly remembers seemingly everything about Allerton, including her brother, who also took the course.

“He did some nice stuff. I see him on Pinterest,” Beatty tells her former student.

The reason for Allerton’s visit, she says, is that she finally has some free time and after all these years, she never forgot Beatty’s class and how much she enjoyed it.

“I was very comfortable. Her level is up here and mine is down here, but you never felt that,” she says. “Her criticisms are always positive. That’s why I’m coming back.”

Allerton isn’t alone in wanting to take a course taught by Beatty. 

“She’s such a renowned artist,” says Karen Campman Emmett, who has been taking the watercolor course for nine years. “She’s known around the United States for her art and she’s here. She’s at the Hoyt,” she says.

Beatty says she’s been painting since she was 10. Specializing in 

watercolor and acrylic, she is known for her work depicting wildlife common to western Pennsylvania, such as birds and deer.

Some of her accomplishments include winning eight duck stamps since 2006. The most recent was the 2019 Ohio Duck Stamp.

“Every hunter in Ohio cannot hunt without my stamp,” she says.

Money raised from selling the duck stamps helps preserve the natural habitat of ducks, which makes the stamps popular among collectors and wildlife enthusiasts.

Beatty says she made $40,000 selling prints of the 2019 stamp in addition to the $4,000 prize.

She also travels the country selling her work at art shows and exhibitions, but her love of teaching always brings her back to the Hoyt.

“When I’m working in the studio, I get no feedback, I get none of that social feedback. In a classroom, I do,” she says.

While she may have more experience than her students, Beatty says every painter begins in the same place. The best part for her is when they realize, “I can do this.” 

“And soon they’re getting things framed for their family and friends. It’s exciting,” Beatty says.

Slippery Rock resident Donna Ross says when she started taking the watercolor class, she couldn’t understand why people who obviously knew how to paint came back week after week.

“Then I started to see the attraction. The teacher is so wonderful that she keeps drawing you back in,” she says. “You become like one big family. Sometimes I think we’re a cult.”

Pictured: Jocelyn Beatty says seeing students’ a-ha moments is part of what keeps her teaching. She’s volunteered at the Hoyt Center for the Arts for 37 years.

Copyright 2020 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.