Marywood alumna teaches art through her own school

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Marywood alumna teaches art through her own school

Munley works with one of her students. Photo courtesy of Colleen Munley.

Munley works with one of her students. Photo courtesy of Colleen Munley.

Munley works with one of her students. Photo courtesy of Colleen Munley.

Munley works with one of her students. Photo courtesy of Colleen Munley.

Brooke Williams, News Editor

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When the electronics plant where Colleen Munley worked at age 25 started offering free college courses, she used the opportunity to pursue art at Marywood. She never thought it would lead to earning her degree, let alone opening an art school of her own years later.

“I never thought it was going to be a degree. I never thought I was going to leave there. I just thought if they’re going to pay for my art classes, I’m going to go,” Munley said.

Free college came with one catch: the courses had to be related to one of the departments at the company. Luckily, art fit the criteria, and Munley had been attracted it to it since her childhood when she would make copies of the pictures in her coloring books.

“I just loved being able to draw things. I still say I think drawing is like having a superpower,” she said.

After eight years of juggling work with her studies, taking as many night classes as possible and using interim sessions to complete her credits, Munley graduated from Marywood in 1992 with a bachelor’s degree in fine arts.

Once she earned her degree, she taught art part-time in two Catholic schools and graded art exams for an online class through Penn Foster.

In 1996, she opened The Art School of NEPA, formerly Babyface Art Studio, in Archbald. At the time, she said she taught five students in a small studio comparable to “the size of a bathroom.”

As her class sizes increased, she moved to larger studios to accommodate them, eventually settling in her current location in Eynon.

In time, Munley cut down to one teaching job outside of The Art School and eventually chose to focus on her own school.

“Not in my wildest dreams did I ever think I could do this full time,” she said.

Munley often creates realistic portraits of people. Photo courtesy of Colleen Munley.

The Art School offers classes for children and adults and helps prospective college students applying for art programs with their portfolio preparation.

Jenny Warren began taking lessons at The Art School in sixth grade and eventually received help from Munley with her application portfolio for Keystone College.

Warren, who earned her bachelor’s degree in visual arts from Keystone in 2015, said Munley made her see that a career in art was possible.

“She helped me a lot with art. I learned everything from her… She really gave me the confidence to continue [with art],” she said.

Munley said it’s always been her quest to show her students that they could become better artists. She said not everyone is born with natural artistic talent, and like cooking or driving, art skills need to be learned and practiced.

“My favorite part is when it happens, when they can draw… And that look on their face is worth everything,” Munley said.

When Munley isn’t working with her students, she said she enjoys working on realistic portraits of both people and animals.

“Everybody is so different and it’s such a challenge to bring across someone’s personality with paint or pencil and to not really show how I feel about them, but to show their personality coming through in a gesture or a smile or the way they look at you,” she said.

Munley also creates portraits of animals. Photo courtesy of Colleen Munley.

Munley plans to use her art and business skills as she transitions into working with another area of interest. After the 2016 presidential election, she decided to get involved in politics, and even attended a seminar to learn more.

“I think I can bring some of my creativity and a lot of my business expertise to that, and even the fact that I work with young people,” she said.

Contact the writer: [email protected]
Twitter: @BWilliamsTWW

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