Shoreline resident and former teacher Amy Pleasant, 48, considers one of her best paintings to be one she did while kids ran in and out of her house during a snow day.
“I’ve learned how to paint around the kids,” said Pleasant, a mother of three. “When I had a moment, I kept returning to the painting. I’m used to painting with distractions. I can paint for five minutes, walk away and come back to it later.”
When Pleasant started painting five years ago, time spent on her brightly colored, oil, acrylic and mixed medium paintings came from 4:30 to 6:30 a.m. before either she or her son needed to begin their school day.
A familiar face in the Shoreline School District for 15 years, Pleasant taught at Highland Terrace Elementary, Sunset Elementary and Einstein Middle School before becoming a full-time artist. While at Sunset, Pleasant studied computer animation and design at the Art Institute of Seattle.
“I realized that I really didn’t like that field because I would have been sitting for eight hours a day and I wasn’t ready to leave the classroom because I enjoyed it so much,” she said.
So she continued painting as a way to supplement her teacher’s salary, working closely with the Shoreline and Lake Forest Park Arts Council, providing original artwork for auctions, and displaying and selling her paintings in several local businesses, including the former Maddox Grill in Shoreline and C’est La Vie in Edmonds for the last five years. Her husband, William Akers, surprised her with a trip to France to see where her favorite painters, Vincent van Gogh and Henri Matisse, lived. Over time, she began to become more serious about her favorite hobby.
While teaching art at Einstein Middle School, Pleasant decided she wanted to paint full-time. She left the classroom last year and, with the encouragement of her husband, publicly showed her paintings at Art and Soul gallery in Ballard in September, began studying with other painters and is currently part of an Atelier, an intense full-time study, at Gage Academy of Art in Seattle.
“This year has been an exciting year because I’m doing the Atelier and I also share a studio, Similitude, in Ballard with other painters,” Pleasant said.
Although Pleasant will have another showing at Art and Soul in Ballard on September 8, her artwork is currently up at Scott’s Bar and Grill in Edmonds. Thirty of her paintings are on display at the restaurant throughout June with an artist reception on June 27.
“My guests have noticed Amy’s paintings,” said Debbie Weis, general manager at Scott’s Bar and Grill. “I actually received a written card thanking me for the pop of color. I love her stuff too.”
Pleasant describes her paintings as being characterized by bright colors and definite use of line and shape. She said people tell her that her paintings are “happy.”
“I guess that’s purposeful because I do believe there’s joy in our everyday lives. It’s a matter of having an awareness, observing it and being grateful for it,” Pleasant said. “I think my paintings will always be marked by light and color.”
Although her next step will involve the work of seeking gallery representation, Pleasant said she feels lucky to be doing what she loves and still wants to be involved in art education in some fashion.
“One thing I have to say is Shoreline has such an incredible commitment to the arts, and as a teacher, the administration and the rest of the staff were so supportive of the arts,” Pleasant said. “I know people hear about the music programs but I’m not sure people are aware just how strong the visual arts program is as well.”
Pleasant’s artwork may be viewed now through June at Scott’s Bar and Grill or by visiting www.AmyPleasantSeattle.com. Pricing catalogs are also available at Scott’s.