Being an art teacher is one of the most rewarding jobs any person can have, especially if you are an artist at heart. Marathon Middle High School art students enjoy the benefits of having a loving mentor and an accomplished artist, Kristi Ferrise, to connect with daily. 

She said she enjoys depicting everything from animals to architecture, botanicals to landscapes. She never stops smiling when immersed in the joy of painting and her love for art is bested only by her love for teaching. A symbiosis exists between her and the budding artists sharing her studio-classroom. 

“Sometimes, we get in the zone, where everyone is painting and the conversation is easy and fun. That’s my favorite time,” she said. 

Ferrise studied communications in college, but from a young age alongside her grandmother, she began experimenting with charcoal drawing and it became her chosen medium. She later found watercolors and honed her skills, sponsored by formal instruction from the Florida Keys Watercolor Society where she signed on as a member. She also paints now in acrylics, and prides herself on developing her skills as her students do the same. 

It’s hard not to see the correlation between Ferrise’s bubbly, outgoing personality and the vibrant artwork she creates. Ferrise is a native of California who spent time in Colorado and New York. Her desire to work with dolphins is what originally brought her to the Keys, where she spent a great deal of time working at Dolphin Research Center on Grassy Key before becoming a teacher. 

Ferrise said, “What I love most about teaching art is that my students learn that it’s okay to make a mistake. After trying again, and again, they create art they are proud of. I am often told I need to sell my own work more, but I really just enjoy making art and sharing it, whether with my students or with the people I paint something for.”

Ferrise’s quick wit and use of humor lends itself quite well to the age group she now teaches. Her students seem to form a fast bond with her and find themselves deeply inspired when she takes time to draw and paint alongside them in class, something she does quite often. 

Interested in making a donation to Marathon Middle-High School’s art program? Mail a check to Marathon Middle-High School Art, 350 Sombrero Beach Rd., Marathon, FL 33050.

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