Mr. Long’s Eccentric Art Atelier

The magic that happens in Room 302.


Stephen Long

Wait. How did he get those lollipops out of his beard?

Mei Dotzler, Editor

Take a look at some of Mr. Long’s artwork. Woah!!

Mr. Long, known for his premier art and 10-inch long beard, acquired his love for the creative outlet early on, possessing a natural prowess that began with a mere pencil.

Filling up over a dozen sketchbooks and artwork covering the walls of his home, one could definitely surmise he’s an artist. Art is the protagonist of his life, the lust to create driving him to pursue teaching. As he inspires hundreds of students daily, we need to know what inspires the inspirer.

“I’ve been making art my entire life. Ever since I was a little kid, when I’d be forced to go to church, I’d draw in the little books in the pews while everyone was listening. And then after that, doing a bunch of different drawings and cartoons all throughout… I was lucky to have art class every grade K-12, so I kept taking it and I always had awesome teachers to source my motivation.”

As a product of the confidence that was progressively instilled into him from his high school art teachers, it wasn’t until senior year, going into James Madison University, that he decided to major in Fine Arts: Painting and Drawing and Art Education, for he knew that was the only way to seamlessly mesh art into his career.

As a teacher at Sahuaro going on 10 years, art is the universal language spoken between him and his students — the one thing that everyone has in common and the one thing that can defy all kinds of barriers. “I think the most rewarding aspect of my job is seeing what my kids create. Year after year, there’s amazing stuff that’s always being made by different kids, or when students are struggling and then the moment that they finally get it. It blows my mind. I never forget those students.”

“I like teaching the basics you learn in Beginning Art. You lay out the foundation and we get to cover so many things; it’s the coolest. But I like my intermediate and advanced kids the best because they’re more involved and invested in their creations and concepts. And on top of that, they want to be in the class.”

As a victim of art block just like everybody else, this last decade has really been a time for finding ways to ultimately defeat it. When his inspiration is at a temporary decline, Mr. Long revealed that he likes to people watch and make random blobs of watercolor in hopes that it’ll strike a chord. “I’ll write out my ideas, and once I draw it out, I’ll make additional notes on how to change it or make it better.”

Every artist has their forté, and Mr. Long’s is watercolor by far. “I really like the ability to constantly layer and create new colors. I love color theory, and how we interpret color based on our own experiences.” Admiring over 400 artists and garnering inspiration from a variety of different styles and techniques, he pulls from all over, expanding his repertoire of mostly realism and surrealism pieces.

To all those aspiring artists out there, Mr. Long has some timeless advice that will withstand any obstacles you may face in your creative journey. “Draw as much as you can, don’t worry about the end product. Practice doesn’t really make perfect; consistency of it all will help you get better. Experimenting with different mediums and techniques will lead you to a greater focus.”

Room 302 has created hundreds of passionate young artists, all with one thing in common: Mr. Long as their mentor. Throughout all the trials and tribulations that will inevitably present themselves, always persevere, for you will regret it if you don’t. Creating art is not an overnight process, and who knows…maybe you’ll become the next Van Gogh or Monet.