Brushing the Path to Creativity: A Look into the Journey of Tim “Red” Johnson


Story by Marlie Buckingham, Messenger Staff Writer

One of Placer High School’s greatest strengths is the amazing staff. Specifically, Tim Johnson, otherwise known as Red is one of Placer’s fine arts teachers.

Red’s interest in Art came at an early age. Red states, “My father used to paint his motorcycle using pin-stripe designs and cool metallic colors. I think it was very influential on me.” Red has been teaching at Placer for 24 years, but subbed in previous years.

Prior to teaching Red attended Placer. He is now teaching in the same Art classroom he was a student in, in the 80s. His experience at Placer influenced his decision to teach at Placer. “My Art teachers here at Placer were a huge influence on my decision to become a teacher. Mario Ferrante, Toby Covich, and Kim Brown gave me the confidence to pursue my artistic talent and encouraged me at every turn.”

Penny Faudree, a Senior at Placer High School is Red’s teaching assistant. Faudree explained, “I really enjoy the atmosphere in Red’s classroom. Red also opened me up to new art forms, such as graffiti style.”

While in school Red wasn’t very interested in becoming a teacher. Instead, he wanted to go to Art school and pursue a career in designing skateboard graphics. Red reflects “It wasn’t until later, when I was at UC Davis, that I realized being an Art teacher was the right path for me.” Tim claims he has no regrets about becoming a teacher, “Dealing with teens can be a challenge and while I have had a few over the years, overall it has been a rewarding career.”

In addition to being a teacher Red is also a father, “I got to watch my 3 children attend and thrive at Placer.” Claire Johnson, a junior and also Red’s daughter claims, “It’s cool having my dad work here. Sometimes seeing him in teacher mode is weird, but overall I like him teaching here.”

Red has taught a variety of classes over the years. Such as; ceramics, computer multimedia, printmaking, and video production. “My favorite class to teach is Art 1.” He enjoys teaching this class because It involves all the different basics all artists start with, drawing, watercolor, collage, pen and ink, and much more. Tim believes this class is essential because “Becoming comfortable learning how to use these is the starting point for anyone who might be thinking of an Artistic pathway.”

Kathleen Tonkin, a freshman at Placer states, “Red is a very fun teacher, that knows how to make any students no matter their art skill feel confident in their art.”

Red has about 10 years at most before retirement. He is hoping to enjoy his final years in the classroom by guiding creative teens and creating his own artwork. “Working at PHS has been the greatest! I have had so much fun working with my old art teachers and have gained new colleagues as well.”