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Southeast Missouri State University

Professor Ron Clayton


Art Professor Ron Clayton “practices what he teaches.”  Not only does he teach at the University, he also is a professional artist who has had gallery shows in New York, Chicago, San Francisco, Salt Lake City and Columbus, Ohio. 

“My hobby is my career,” Clayton says, and he wants his students to realize their work can be more than a weekend pastime.

“When making decisions, there are all kinds of distractions along the way, but you should do what you love.  Do what motivates and fulfills you,” Clayton says.  “If you have the commitment and dedication, you will get good at it and someone will likely pay you to do it.”  He says his students should follow their hearts when making tough choices about their careers.

Clayton spends most of his spare time painting, completing 10 to 25 pieces per year.  With sizes ranging from 10 to 30 square feet, some of these paintings will sell for more than $10,000. 

When describing Clayton’s work, Chicago gallery owner Gwenda Jay said, “His paintings always refer to a debilitated nature, representing anything natural that has been torn apart, disregarded, or destroyed by the intervention of humankind. Clayton's landscapes reveal actual places as they would be, as they could be, without evidence of human conflict or destruction. Always grounded in reality, they are, ultimately, idyllic landscapes of the imagination."

With a graduate degree from Cranbrook Academy of Art in Bloomfield Hills, Mich., Clayton has been a Southeast faculty member since 1989.  Although he could be a self-supporting artist, Clayton says he enjoys the opportunity to teach as well as paint.

In the classroom, he prefers an atmosphere of “relaxed attentiveness” because it is difficult for artists to create on command or within strict guidelines.  “Although certain things are required in beginning courses, I prefer to be more of a mentor in my higher-level courses.  I really want to encourage personal exploration,” he says.