Laura (Shackelford) Beckham: Inside the Artist’s Studio

Losing My Faculties or Derrick White Ruined My Life

By Derrick White

It’s the end of the world as we know it, and I feel just okay. Happy New Year! Twenty-four months ago, while my wife and I were sitting in a local hospital emergency waiting room, two officers from the sheriff’s department entered, as they occasionally do, with a despondent patient. As they escorted their client across the room one of the officers stopped, turned, and headed directly for me. Shaking my hand vigorously he turned to his partner, smiled, and said, “This is my art teacher!” Wow, here is a thirty-something graduate working in his chosen career field and somehow he fondly remembers time he spent in his community college art class over ten years ago. I hope whatever you do for a living, or even outside of work, allows you the opportunity to have a positive impact on other people. I am reminded of the quote, “I’ve learned people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel,” by the late author Maya Angelou. These types of remunerations are hard to measure and difficult to put a price on. “Teaching is a really hard job to do well and a really easy job to do badly,” a quote from the book “Losing My Faculties” by Brendan Halpin.

Laura Beckham is an East Texas artist with a unique, vintage style, and a fun attitude. Her work is engaging, complex, funny, distinctive, folkish, and peculiar. Something I enjoy about her work is she puts fear aside and creates the way she conceives, embracing her own aesthetic choices. Laura worked on producing art all through high school and took art courses at both Tyler Junior College and the University of North Texas.

Lately, she states she has been working as a freelance artist, mainly doing commissioned pieces. “I used to do a lot of collage and mixed media work, which I still enjoy, but I’ve gradually started getting into working with pen, ink, and watercolors. I typically ink all of my drawings using Micron pens in various sizes and then use Sakura Koi Brush Pens to add color. The Koi Brush Pens can be used with or without water, and you can get a lot of different effects with them,” informs the artist.

Laura recalls, “I took art classes through high school, but got lost in the shuffle. I knew I loved art, but I hadn’t quite found my voice. My freshman year of college I took Derrick White’s art appreciation at Tyler Junior College, and it turned my world upside down. One of the assignments was to fill up a sketchbook, and I loved it! Sketchbooks have always been my one true love. I was really into creating mixed media collages. I collaged (pasted or glued) the pages with materials ranging from acrylic paint, to sharpie marker, to all different sorts of tape, film, and anything else I could get my hands on. I stayed up late many nights working on my sketchbook and often made a huge art mess in my dorm room (sorry, Stephanie). At the end of my semester, Derrick had written a note stating I must take a studio class the following semester. This note meant so much to me, at the time and even now, because it confirmed I had a voice, and people were listening. I decided to take him up on the offer and enrolled. I basically took every art class offered. Derrick White ruined my life, and I’ve got the t-shirt to prove it! While enrolled in studio classes, I was offered a scholarship as a showcase student. I, along with 2 other artists, exhibited artwork in the Wise Auditorium Art Gallery. It was truly an amazing opportunity.”

ben wheeler

After TJC, Laura moved to Denton and continued taking art classes for a few more years. She ultimately did not end up pursuing an art degree, but art is something that always has and always will be part of her story.

Laura loves being a part of a creative community and social media plays a big role. “I find Instagram is an amazing platform for connecting with new and established artists,” she says. “Creating art also relaxes me and keeps me somewhat sane. It’s a great way for me to channel my energy and gives me a place to put all of the ideas running around in my head. The things I find most inspiring in the creative community are the artists who create something new every single day. Whether it is a quick painting or a few doodles in their sketchbooks. It’s all about process and getting your work out into the public, and it pushes me to be better,” affirms Beckham.

When asked about any frustrations in the creative process she replied, “Getting out of my own way. I’m learning to simply push past all of the negative voices of doubt inside my head and putting work out into the world regardless.”

Laura is inspired by artist Lisa Congdon, a Portland artist, illustrator, hand letterer, pattern designer, author, world traveler, collector, and self-proclaimed goofball. Laura is always searching for ways to push herself artistically and is currently working on projects of 100 days of portraits and a 12-month calendar. “The portraits project is a mix of original characters and portraits of friends. Both projects are entirely hand drawn, and I think the imperfections and wonky lines are what gives them character,” states the wonky artist.

“I appreciate the compliment because I crave praise…but what really strikes me as amazing is the time she spent in my class mattered to her. She is a creative, talented, and articulate artist, and while I don’t take any credit for that, I just think it’s remarkable my job allowed me to come into contact with this person’s life and maybe have an impact on it. I am reminded once again what I do is important, and I get a profound satisfaction from having been any kind of influence at all on somebody, and I think, well, yes, I hate the burnouts and moron administrators, and giving grades and having to not lose stuff, but this is a really great gig,” – ‘Losing My Faculties’ by Brendan Halpin.

For more info about Laura Beckham’s art go to or check out @Laura.Beckham.Art on Instagram.

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