Budding artists welcome at Blair Center for the Arts
By Liesel Schmidt
Art is extremely important to the world. It affects and influences everything, from fashion to architecture. It’s also one of the most effective ways to express thought and emotion, making viewers feel and think for themselves—even if they may not understand exactly what the artist is trying to convey.
For organizations like the Blair Center for the Arts in Mount Pleasant, art is the language that everyone speaks and giving students a stronger voice is at the very heart of their reason for being. Created in 2019 when the Blair School of Realism merged with Creative Arts of Mount Pleasant, BCA built upon established programs and expanded them, offering a wider scope of instruction to a broader base of students. The foundation was strong: The School of Realism’s reputation as an international art school with incredible talent at its helm and in its classes, along with the standing of Creative Arts of Mount Pleasant, created an initiative filled with possibility and purpose.
“The concept was to offer artists of all ages the highest quality art instruction delivered from wide range of art teachers,” said Dru Blair, founder of the Blair School of Realism, who worked with Italian artist Silvia Belviso and Kathleen Fox, owner of Creative Arts of Mt. Pleasant, to establish BCA. “We wanted to cater to artists who are serious about improving their art but also want to have fun while doing so. Kathleen had taken Creative Arts in that direction, and our desire was to build upon that.”
What BCA brings to the community is more than just an opportunity to gather and create—it also provides children a supplement to the art programs offered in schools. Unfortunately, school art programs are often either underfunded or non-existent. For adult artists, BCA offers programs to take their art to the next level. Budding artists also find a place to plant roots and bloom.
“By offering art courses designed to inspire and motivate, we help developing artists nurture their talent,” said Blair. “Many of our instructors are classically trained and can establish solid foundations and skill-building direction for these newly emerging artists.”
Over the past two years, BCA has established a reputation for itself, both for the quality of its instruction as well as its work with the community in establishing a firm foundation in the arts. “The artistic range of our instructors is amazing,” noted Blair. “We have instructors that can create paintings indistinguishable from a photograph, and others who specialize in pure abstract expressionism. They are masters in each of their mediums. For children’s programs, we have teachers with decades of experience who bring a high quality of art education to young students—often blending history and education within the lesson. They ensure that we offer a robust program of hour-long afterschool classes for children aimed at nurturing their artistic development.”
Funded by donations from the School of Realism and by class tuition, BCA is not dependent on the generosity of benefactors to keep its doors open and its classes financed. And while that particular hurdle may be cleared, they still encounter challenges.
“One big issue for us has been orchestrating more than 40 different classes each week with only 18 instructors and three studio spaces, then doing it again every five or six weeks,” said Blair, whose background in art is both impressive and expansive.
Originally planning to enter the field of medicine, Blair shifted his focus to fine art as an undergraduate when he discovered his artistic ability and switched majors in his senior year at Furman University in Greenville. After earning a master’s degree in Fine Art and working as a commercial illustrator for two decades, he founded the Blair School of Realism in 1997 to teach photorealistic painting techniques. He then went on to tour the world as a guest instructor and teach at various art schools all across the globe. That period of travel and teaching enriched his artistic expertise, giving him a wealth of knowledge to share with his students.
“The best part for me is watching the transformation of an artist as they develop skills, understanding, and the capacity to command their subject and medium,” said Blair of what he enjoys most about working with BCA. “Aside from the personal joy that art brings, a culture is defined by its art. One often-overlooked benefit is art’s ability to teach creativity and imagination. Creativity is how every invention came into existence, and any invention we enjoy was born from someone’s imagination. To quote Einstein, ‘Imagination is more important than knowledge. Knowledge is limited. Imagination encircles the world.’”
Offering a broad range of mediums in their classes, the teachers at BCA specialize in classical oil painting, acrylic, watercolor, pastel, airbrush, drawing, sculpture, pen and ink, colored pencil, pouring, printmaking, and fabric arts. Children’s classes are one hour in length, and adult classes range from 90 minutes to three hours. Private instruction is also available.
BCA is located at 1125 Bowman Road #100. For more information, call 843-936-6351 or visit www.creativeartsofmp.com.