A typical night for Ahmad Austin can be stated in one word: relaxation. In fact, most of his paintings are done at night when his inspiration comes from the sultry sounds of John Coltrane, a popular jazz legend. When Austin ends his workday as an art teacher, he begins a work of exquisite art that evokes excitement and energy. Austin states, “It’s almost indescribable how I feel when I’m painting. It’s as if time doesn’t exist. After coming home from an intense day working with high school students, Austin shows us how he goes from teaching art class to painting jazz.
Austin was born and reared in Birmingham, Alabama. His interest in art began at an early age as did his reputation as a good art student among many students during grade school. At age 11, he was hired for his first commission work, which happened to be a drawing of the late, great Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. At age 12 he was enrolled in the prestigious Alabama School of Fine Arts with a concentration in visual arts. During his junior year at Huffman High School, he won second place in a statewide high school art competition. Upon graduating in 1995, Austin continued his education at the well-known Alabama A & M University in Huntsville, Alabama where he earned his Bachelor of Science degree in Art Education in the year 2000. While at Alabama A & M, he gained skills not only in drawing, but also in photography, painting, glassblowing, and ceramics.
As of today Austin has been teaching for twenty years. He is currently at Hoover High School where he teaches Art 1 and Art 2. Austin states “I consider myself one of the fortunate ones in the teaching profession because not only am I able to teach and encourage my students, but they do the same for me. I am inspired and intrigued by their creative works of art and it just doesn't get any better than that!”
After a hard work of teaching high school student Austin paints at night in during the weekend. Most of Austin’s work are of magical paintings that capture the essence of jazz music. Perhaps this can be accredited to Austin’s father, who played jazz around the house when he was younger. Austin has now committed himself to producing his new series entitled “Jazz it Up”. You can find his work all around the Birmingham area from collectors from all over.
During the pandemic Austin has moved from just jazz painting to amazing portraits of African American children. His new portraits capture the innocence and humanity of each child in his painting. Just like his jazz paintings, his portraits are filled with colorful texture and bold strokes. If you were to look into anyone in the eyes of any of Austin’s portraits you will deeply feel the child’s innocence and a small amount of despair.