Instructor Spotlight: Scott Rispin

Stop by the Museum on a Monday morning or Tuesday evening and you might hear classic rock tunes, as well as chatter and laughter echoing through the hallway. Step inside the classroom and you will find Scott Rispin connecting with his painting students: introducing new techniques and encouraging artistic choices. Rispin knows how to create a fun, enriching environment for his students, proven by a roster of returning students that enroll each semester. Learn more about Rispin’s courses for beginners and practicing artists in this short interview.

You teach at Penn State Behrend and lead painting workshops in local breweries across town. What is special about teaching at the Erie Art Museum?
It is a special environment teaching at the Art Museum, very different from teaching in the college setting. There are no credits to accumulate, no degrees to be earned. These students sign up, and make the effort every week because they have an active interest and desire to learn painting. I think most do so intending to continue painting for years to come, and many have returned for multiple sessions. As a result, I have been able to serve a greater role in the development of student’s work, and have forged many friendships as well. From a teacher’s perspective, it may even be ideal.

Describe your class atmosphere.
It is always very laid-back, friendly, and fun. Maybe that is a result of my personality: that’s the type of class I would want to be in. Beginning Acrylic Painting has structured projects and “lessons,” culminating in a final painting of the student’s choosing. This sets up the structure for the other painting classes I teach. Those students (in Painting in Acrylics and Open Paint) choose their own projects, and even the “style” and manner of painting they would like to investigate. Consequently, students can be working with a wide variety of painting styles and subject matter. This always makes for a very interesting, fun, and at the same time informative classroom experience. Working through individual student problems and concerns in a workshop type atmosphere is educational to the entire class. I love that students regularly enjoy, support and comment on each other’s work.

Do your students inspire you?
Actually yes, my students regularly inspire me. Of course, it is very rewarding to see someone apply what they are learning, and continue to improve and have their successes. It is inspiring to see their confidence grow, and choose greater challenges for themselves when it would be easy enough to be content with a little progress.The commitment to what they love, and the effort to continue it, to want to learn more about it is very inspiring to me. It helps to keep me from taking my own painting for granted, to keep pushing myself.

I suppose one of the most rewarding and happiest results of teaching at the Erie Art Museum over the past eight years is the number of “regulars” who have become friends not only of mine, but friends with each other. They often meet outside of painting class, talk about their paintings and other things of common interest.  It is a continual reminder of the ability of art to draw people together.

Beginning Acrylic Paint and Painting in Acrylic and Oils take place on Tuesday evenings in the winter semester. Open Paint, a class for all levels of painters, is held on Monday mornings. Winter classes begin the week of January 16th. More information on studio art classes, including times and prices, can be found on the class schedule page.

Chris Adelhardt is a a hand-building instructor at the ClaySpace Studio and has exhibited in several shows throughout Edinboro and Pennsylvania. He is a talented sculptor and his work is an emotional response through dialectics.
“Chris is a great teacher, he works really well with any level of artist and can take the ideas of his students and help turn them into a great piece of artwork.”
Ed Bernik is a commercial photographer in Erie, PA with more then 30 years of experience in advertising, journalism and fine art photography. His distinctive portraiture is complemented by extensive editorial work in corporate, documentary and tourism photography and videography. Ed’s books on Pennsylvania include Pennsylvania Wilds: Images from the Allegheny National Forest, The Great Kinzua Bridge and Pennsylvania Crude: Boomtowns and Oil Barons . You can find his work online at
Greg Gehner began experimenting with welding in his friend’s garage for a high school art project that later led him into a sculpture program and eventually metalsmithing and blacksmithing at Southern Illinois University at Carbondale. He established his studio, Transit Forge, with a move to Pennsylvania and marriage to Metals/Jewelry Professor Cappy Counard of Edinboro University. One of his commissioned works was the bike rack outside of the Erie Art Museum. Check out his website
Esther Sung A. Hong received undergraduate and graduate degrees in Oriental Art in Korea with a focus in landscapes. She has exhibited and sold her work in galleries across the United States.
“This class was both enjoyable and worthwhile. It taught me something unique about oriental art style and philosophy. The ‘Zen’ quality of oriental painting was relaxing.”

“She worked with each individual separately and drew examples to help us learn as we went along”

“This class was a lot of fun. I learned something new that my school does not have.”

“Esther Hong is a wonderful teacher – taking the time to explain and demonstrate as well as giving individual attention where needed.

Jill Kambs holds MFA degrees in Photography and Book Arts from the University of Iowa where she was a Wilhelm and Jane Bodine Fellow, and she received her BA from Luther College where she studied studio art, English, and education. Jill’s photographic work has been published in The Iowa Review and Water Stone Review, and her artist’s books and prints can be seen in a growing number of special collections, including the University of Florida Libraries, the Hennepin County Libraries, and the Samford University department of Special Collections. As a practicing visual artist and educator, Jill has taught art in the public schools, in college institutions, and for a variety of community and outreach organizations. In the upcoming semesters, Jill teaches photography, bookbinding and printmaking classes at the Museum.
“Jill was knowledgeable, outgoing, helpful and patient. She was able to explain concepts in beginner terms.”
Denise Keim is a visual narrator, an educator, and a photographer. She has spent twenty years photographing the human landscape. Her vision has led her to work in design, corporate, editorial, and academic arenas. After working extensively throughout Eastern Europe as a Fulbright Scholar, she has a serious body of work that takes us on a striking visual journey and has us traversing the subtleties of the human condition.
Ehren Knapp resides in Erie, Pennsylvania, yet has lived and traveled extensively throughout the United States. He was a member of the U.S. Marine Corps and developed his love for painting while in the service; adorning barracks, vehicles and offices with his designs. After the service he studied at the Laguna College of Art and Design in Laguna Beach, CA, Studio Art Centers International in Florence, Italy, and earned his BFA from Edinboro University. Ehren is a distinguished muralist and his work can be found on buildings and signs throughout Erie County. Ehren currently teaches art at Wayne Elementary in addition to leading drawing courses at the Erie Art Museum.
Ron McCorkle is a Ceramics on the Wheel instructor at the Erie Art Museum and has been creating his own work at the ClaySpace studio for 5 years. He earned his fine art degree from Edinboro University and owns and operates his own dairy farm in Edinboro. Ron also has experience teaching elementary and high school students at public schools in Mercer County. His artwork has exhibited in West Virginia and Erie, taking the award for best of show in the 2013 Barber Art Show.
“Ron was very good at demonstration and explaining different techniques for wheel throwing. He was patient, clear and provided great examples.”
Matthew Mead, owner of Matt Mead Photography, is known for his breathtaking underwater photography. A former student of Art Becker ,he now teaches Photoshop courses through the Erie Art Museum. Mead is an avid scuba diver and his passion for diving and photography allows him to travel to locations all over the world. Matthew Mead is also a 2000 graduate of Clarion University, where he received a Bachelor of Science with a focus in Environmental Geoscience. For more information on Matt and his work visit his website
Dan and Jan Niebauer have been teaching and working in the jewelry field for over 45 years. They both hold master’s degrees from Edinboro University and are members of the Jeweler’s Vigilance Committee of America. Dan and Jan are the owners of Ralph Miller Jewelers.
“The class exceeded my expectations, I enjoyed it and found it educational as well.”
Scott Rispin began his 30+ years of artistic pursuits developing logos, carving signage and hand painting signs in his hometown of South Lake Tahoe, California. Since settling in Erie in 1990, Scott has been a working professional in nearly every aspect of the commercial arts; silk screening, custom graphics and signage and murals. He received his BA in Art Education from Mercyhurst College in 2003, and his MFA in painting from Edinboro University in 2008. Scott also currently teaches drawing and visual art classes at Penn State Behrend. Scott has won awards for his sculpture, painting, and public art projects. As an instructor he emphasizes individual achievement and encourages a fun and energetic classroom atmosphere. See Scott’s work on his website:
“Instructor was casual, interactive and knowledgeable”
Deborah Sementelli attended the Art Institute of Pittsburgh and received a BFA from Edinboro University. Deb delights in working in all types of media, with watercolor, drawing and fiber as her favorites.  In addition to teaching Life Drawing and Beginning Watercolor at the Museum, Deb is on the Pennsylvania teaching artist roster and shares her skills with students of all ages in Erie and the surrounding area.
“Good teaching methods, gentle critiques with a variety of activities.”

“Deb did a good job considering the different levels of experience of students. She was always pleasant and patient.”

“This class renewed my love for drawing” –life drawing

Wilda Sundberg has been an instructor at the Museum for 50 years. She has had solo exhibitions at the Erie Art Museum, Theil College, the Schuster Gallery, and the Waterford Community Center. Wilda is also a juried member of the Pittsburgh Watercolor Society and a founding member of the Northwestern Pennsylvania Artists Association.
“Wilda’s manor of teaching was gentle and accepting no matter what level each student happened to be.”

“Painting on location was a first for me, now, joining Wilda’s class had made this less intimidating.”

“Wilda wants us to paint in our own style and encourages us to do so.”

Erica Whiting earned her Bachelor’s degree in fine arts from Edinboro University and has exhibited in Erie including Urraro Gallery and the Bayfront Gallery. Her own work focuses on human relationships, “exploring the marks we leave behind and those that are left on us.” Many of her paintings and prints are inspired from personal x-ray slides. Erica teaches art and design classes at Collegiate Academy and strongly believes expression through art allows for success in all areas of life.
Sarah Whitman began her relationship with the Museum as a studio art class student and the experience renewed her passion for ceramics. After her course she volunteered as a technician at the ClaySpace studio and learned to mix clay, load and fire kilns, test, tweak and develop new glazes. Her work has been featured in local art shows and she sells her pottery at Gallery Nights and craft shows around the region. Sarah is the current instructor for Ceramics on the Wheel and Clay for Kids and she also leads workshops and parties at the clay studio.