SMS art teacher finds meaning in the details

SMS art teacher finds meaning in the details

When Brett Owen was in first-grade, she walked into her class’ career day with overalls on her body, a bright handkerchief tied around her neck, and a ball cap positioned sideways on her head. She was dressed as her dream career: an artist.

“I guess that’s how [my mom] thought an artist would dress!”, said Owen, who is now the art teacher at Scottsburg Middle School. “I’ve kept with art because I enjoy it, and it’s a big part of who I am. I can’t remember a time I haven’t loved art.”

Owen’s love for art blossomed as she began drawing portraits. She remembers drawing her first portrait of her grandmother.

“I was probably seven, and she was sick in bed. My aunt said that I just sat beside her and used a pen and notepad to sketch out all the details,” Owen said.

The portrait, which the family still owns, shows her grandmother and her grandmother’s room, complete with tissues beside her, a lamp on her nightstand, and the pattern of her shirt and quilt.

“I enjoy portraits because it causes you to look at the person more carefully. To me, it’s exciting to notice little details about them that I would otherwise miss,” Owen said. “I guess I’ve always enjoyed slowing down to notice the details around me.”

After Owen graduated from high school, her artwork was noticed even more when she entered college at Indiana University. Her painting was chosen to advertise the advanced painting course at IU Bloomington.

“I love oil paints, and I love painting portraits and nature,” Owen said.

She took her love of nature and art and painted a scene at Lake Monroe, where she and her husband witnessed a moment of celebration.

“My favorite piece was probably a scene I painted of Lake Monroe. There was a boat that got stuck in the shore, and five college kids helped to push it back out. They were all celebrating with their arms in the air, and the old couple on the boat were waving happily,” Owen said. “My husband took a picture of that moment, so I used it for a painting. I really liked the stormy sky and the colors in the water.”

Along with her love art and creating portraits, Owen has another detail about her life that only about 1 in 50 children share in the United States — she is a twin.

“Growing up as a twin, we were either best friends or enemies, depending on the day. There’s no one who can get under your skin quite like your twin, but that’s probably true for all siblings. However, it was nice to always have someone there,” Owen said.

Growing up, Owen always had someone to share her milestones, her day-to-day life experiences, and even her birthday.

With her fraternal twin by her side, Owen learned how to swim, learned how to drive a car, went to college together, and now, live in the same city. At random, they start talking about the same things, sharing a twin intuition, where they finish each other’s sentences or thoughts. And, sometimes, they are even mistaken for one another.

“We are fraternal, but we’ve been told we look pretty similar. My sister came to help at an art show at Corydon Elementary one year, and she was bombarded with kids yelling, ‘Mrs. Owen!’ Once they got a little closer, they looked a little confused and asked, ‘Mrs. Owen’s sister?’”, Owen said.

Despite spending their lives being completely intertwined, Owen and her sister differ on their careers. As a lifelong lover of art, Owen decided when she was in college that she wanted to be a teacher. She made this decision after spending time in the pool and giving swim lessons to children and adults.

“I used to give lessons to all age groups ranging from three to adults,” said Owen, who was student-athlete in cross-country and track during her years at Salem High School. “Once I realized I really working with kids and seeing them improve with swim lessons, I knew I wanted to add education to my degree.”

Now that Owen is a teacher, she loves her job at SMS. She loves her job so much that she drives more than 30 miles from home to work at Scott 2.

“The technology is pretty great, but most of all, I love the positive atmosphere,” Owen said. “I think the drive is well worth it because there are so many positives about SMS. Most of all, I love the positive atmosphere, the respectful students, and supportive staff and administration.”

Owen’s positive attitude and dedication to her work and to her students are what make the difference for hundreds of students at SMS. At Scott County School District 2, Owen’s story is our story. Your story matters. You matter.