Cultivating Creativity with Dale Case

Brittney Osborn


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Cultivating Creativity with Dale Case

By Emily Merrell, Photography by Melissa Donner, Photos of artwork submitted

Throughout his 33-year career in education, Dale Case always found a way to let his love for art shine through. Now in retirement, Case has continued to share his passion for the arts with his community in a variety of ways: hosting art classes for children and adults, live wedding paintings, and commissioned paintings of families, architecture, pets and more.

“The earliest memories that I have are of drawing and being creative,” said Case. “Like all kids, people would ask me what I wanted to be when I grew up, and my answer never changed. I wanted to be an artist from the time that I was little and could just hold a pencil. That never changed. The thing that changed for me as I got older were the opportunities.”

Throughout his time in grade school, Case had dreams of becoming an architect or a graphic designer. However, after one semester as a graphic design major at Arkansas State University, he rerouted his career path by changing his major to art education. Case had always loved being around children and studying art education felt like a good way to combine his passions.

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Case began his education career teaching art to 8th through 12th grade students in the Walnut Ridge district. After enjoying nine years as an art teacher, he got a master’s degree in elementary administration, feeling the need to get into administration to support his family – his wife, Michell, and daughters, Chloe and Claire. Case spent one year as an assistant principal in the Gosnell School District, then as principal at Nettleton for 11 years, Manila for three years, and at Jonesboro Visual and Performing Arts Magnet School for the last nine years of his career.

“When I was a principal, I always taught art classes wherever I was the principal,” he said. “I would teach after-school classes and always kept my hand in art that way. I’ve always had some kind of creative outlet going. I’ve done many murals over the years on businesses and homes, and I’ve been blessed to do a lot of commission pieces.”

“When I retired, I just decided I would go back and do what my passion was and do art full time – teach classes, do more commissions and all of those things.”

Case has kept his schedule busy since retiring from education in 2022. He hosts teaching classes for artists of all ages and abilities; classes range from children’s classes for first- through third-grade kids and fourth grade and up, along with beginner and intermediate adult art courses. The children’s classes offer art instruction in multiple mediums and materials. The adult classes focus mainly on watercolor, with levels for those who are new to art, as well as those who are honing their skills.

Case says teaching the adult classes has been one of the most enjoyable and rewarding experiences of his life.

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“What I've really loved about these classes is that people are doing things for themselves,” said Case. “Adults, especially women, spend their life taking care of other people. With these classes, for one hour a week, they get to do something for themselves. And that has been so neat to watch that happen.”

Another way Case has been able to share his passion for art is through his live wedding paintings, a service he had never heard of until a client requested it in 2020. Since that time, Case has traveled all over Arkansas, as well as to Tennessee and Missouri, to paint live scenes at weddings with scenes from ceremonies, first kisses, first dances and receptions. For this service, Case, accompanied by his wife, Michell, will arrive two hours prior to the wedding to paint the background, then paint the couple’s requested scene and present the artwork to them at the reception. Although the process can be lengthy, Case says it is worth it to see the couple’s reactions.

“It wears you out, because a lot of times I’m sitting there for six hours getting it all from start to finish, but it’s been so rewarding,” said Case. “And it’s neat to have people come by and look at your painting and comment on it, and then to see the reaction of the bride and groom when you give it to them.”

When he is not busy teaching art classes or painting live wedding portraits, Case is working on a variety of commissioned watercolor paintings. He paints pets, houses, children, couples and families. For families with members who are deceased or living far away from each other and unable to visit regularly, Case will take photos of various family members and combine them into one painting, giving them a portrait together that they would not have been able to have otherwise.

As someone who has spent his life and career spreading his love of art to others, Case wants to see more people try their hand at art.

“The main thing that I would tell anyone is to try,” he said. “It’s more difficult for adults because we’ve all been programmed in our minds of these things we can’t do well. Don’t count yourself out. Everyone starts out as an artist, we just forget that as we grow up. Kids will try anything. They’ll do anything that you ask them to do because they’re fearless. But, as adults, we start to think of things that we can’t do. Allow yourself grace and give yourself a chance to try.”

To learn more about Dale Case, visit dalecaseart.com or join the Facebook group Dale Case Artwork.

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