Growing up with a mother who is a teacher taught me something incredibly important about professions in education: in general, Americans do not appreciate educators enough, and our society as a whole doesn't place enough attention on the education system. What we are left with are disgruntled teachers who don't have enough books, don't have enough supplies, and don't get paid enough, and yet they still show up every single day to help our children grow up into the next generation of professionals that will decide the course of our society's future. It's not easy to educate a room full of tiny humans that are far more interested in flinging rubber bands at each other than discussing history - let's face it, most parents feel like they can barely wrangle in 2-3 children, let alone 30 - so it's practically like finding a superhero when you encounter a teacher that goes above and beyond the call of duty. Russell Powell is one of those teachers. 

Advertisement
Powell is a first grade teacher in San Jose, California, but he's also an incredibly talented artist who loves to incorporate art in his teaching style as well as in the classroom aesthetic. 
  

Word tree painting for my buddy Evan after school today.. #wherethesidewalkchalkends

A photo posted by Russell Powell (@pangaeanstudios) on

He inspires his students through his passion and his skill, and it's his unique method of painting that teaches them to think outside the box. Powell begins by painting a portrait on his hand - often times featuring a famous face - just like the one below. In case you don't recognize her, this one is of Ruby Rose, the face of Australian Maybelline New York and cast member from the Netflix series Orange Is The New Black

#rubyrose #freestyle #facepaint #create #pangaeanstudios #wherethesidewalkchalkends @rubyrose

A photo posted by Russell Powell (@pangaeanstudios) on

Because Powell uses oil paints, the paint on his palm doesn't dry out and he can therefor use his hand as a stamp. He calls this process "hand-stamping," and the result looks like this. 

#handstamp #facepaint #rubyrose #pangaeanstudios #wherethesidewalkchalkends @rubyrose

A photo posted by Russell Powell (@pangaeanstudios) on

Powell uploads plenty of time-lapse videos alongside the still images so that you can see his process. 

#handstamp #facepaint #create #emiliaclarke #pangaeanstudios #wherethesidewalkchalkends

A video posted by Russell Powell (@pangaeanstudios) on

Many of these videos start with a little bit of footage of his students making art, proving that he's just as proud of the kids' creativity as he is of his own skill. 

Quick shot... #handstamp #facepaint #create #charmaineolivia #pangaeanstudios #wherethesidewalkchalkends

A video posted by Russell Powell (@pangaeanstudios) on

Messed up on the #handstamp :/ #sineadoconner #johnlennon #create #pangaeanstudios #wherethesidewalkchalkends

A video posted by Russell Powell (@pangaeanstudios) on

Powell's method of using his hand as a canvas teaches a subtle but very important lesson to his students: you don't always have to follow the rules, especially when you're working creatively. It's important to teach children to think outside of the box and challenge pre-established norms, after all, this is how creative problem-solvers think in all areas of life. By using his hand as a canvas, Powell is showing his students that re-imagining something simple can lead to really spectacular results. 

#facepaint #create #pangaeanstudios #wherethesidewalkchalkends photo by @driggsphotography

A photo posted by Russell Powell (@pangaeanstudios) on

#handstamp #facepaint #bodypaint #pangaeanstudios #wherethesidewalkchalkends

A photo posted by Russell Powell (@pangaeanstudios) on

Though many of Powell's portraits are in black and white, on rare occasions he throws in a bit of color and the results are stunning.

Quick shot... #lunchbreaksessions #handstamp #create #pangaeanstudios #wherethesidewalkchalkends

A photo posted by Russell Powell (@pangaeanstudios) on

#handstamp #facepaint #pangaeanstudios #wherethesidewalkchalkends

A photo posted by Russell Powell (@pangaeanstudios) on

#facepaint #pangaeanstudios #wherethesidewalkchalkends

A photo posted by Russell Powell (@pangaeanstudios) on

The texture from Powell's palms and fingers adds an incredible grainy effect to the stamps once on paper; they almost appear to be weathered from time, an effect that would be incredibly difficult to achieve using traditional methods of painting on canvas. 

#handstamp #facepaint #create #pangaeanstudios #wherethesidewalkchalkends

A photo posted by Russell Powell (@pangaeanstudios) on

#handstamp #facepaint #pangaeanstudios #wherethesidewalkchalkends

A photo posted by Russell Powell (@pangaeanstudios) on

#handstamp #facepaint #create #pangaeanstudios #wherethesidewalkchalkends

A photo posted by Russell Powell (@pangaeanstudios) on

By sharing his passion for art with his students, Powell inspires the kind of creativity and expression that allows children to really stretch their imaginations. Whether or not they realize it at the time, many of these kids will be influenced by this creativity for the rest of their lives, and that is the mark of a truly remarkable teacher.