Since then he has written and illustrated nearly a dozen books about his life experiences and drawing. Now solely focused on art, Mr. Gregory travels the world sharing his expertise about harnessing creative potential through art and other means.
ISB hosted Mr. Gregory as the school’s artist in residence from September 15 to 26. He interacted with students from all grades throughout his two weeks at ISB, from leading sketching workshops in the lower elementary school to giving seniors advice on what to expect at art school or university.
“I’ve been trying to encourage kids at all ages to feel good about being creative. Little kids are naturally creative and don’t really need a lot of help, but when kids reach late middle school they can start to get anxious about their creativity and feel judgmental about the things they are making,” he noted.
One of his first engagements was participating in a student-led dialogue during a high school assembly on September 17. During the Q&A session, Mr. Gregory spoke about how he used his artistic talent in the corporate world and revealed what inspires him each time he picks up his pencil and sketchbook.
Yasmine R and Rachel W, from years 11 and 12 respectively, led the assembly dialogue and another in the MS/HS Cafeteria on the eve of Mr. Gregory’s final day at ISB. Both said ISB’s external partnerships that bring experts from all fields to the school benefit students of all ages.
“The fact ISB has so many opportunities to invite these speakers and give students a chance to go out and explore what they want to do is fantastic,” said Rachel.
“It’s a great opportunity to engage with really creative artists. We also get new ideas and advice that we can inspire our own creativity as well,” Yasmine said of ISB’s artist-in-residence program.
Mr. Gregory’s visit didn’t only inspire students’ artistic creativity. Li Keqing, a MS/HS Cafeteria server and ISB bus monitor, was chosen by the American artist to pose in one of his paintings that featured her and two of her co-workers.
The following day Ms. Li presented Mr. Gregory with her own artistic creation: a portrait she had sketched based on his photo.
“I was born with a love for drawing. My favorite subjects to draw are people’s faces, so every day at my previous work unit I would find someone seated to draw,” explained Ms. Li, who was forced to abandon her artistic dream in her youth to study machinery manufacturing.
Mr. Gregory said his time at ISB had also inspired a personal artistic evolution driven by tapping “kid energy.”
“It’s been great to be around this many people of so many ages. They inspire me and fill me with their energy as well. I found a lot of the drawing and painting I was doing was changing; I was using different kinds of colors and drawing in a looser style,” he said.