Ms. Willman, or “Ms. Benny” as her students refer to her, has made a career from her art for over 50 years. Her oils, acrylic and pencil works, as well as her various crafts, have been displayed throughout the North and Southeastern U.S. She has won many awards and is included in both private and public collections. Her artwork is rendered in a “Classical Realism” style. Nature has inspired most of her work, and she is especially fond of creating places of tranquility through the use of color and light: the silhouette of a fisherman at the break of day, the glisten of sunlight from a new fallen snow, to the billowed shadows through a ship’s sail. She enjoys working in monochromatic colors in abstract and realistic forms.
She began her art career at the tender age of eight, where she started taking lessons at the Little Gallery in New Brunswick, NJ. At the young age of 19, a severe car accident left her in a wheelchair for over a year, and it changed her focus in life. She turned to painting and sketching, which have served as her inspiration and strength throughout the years.
Since then, she has conducted private and small group classes to adults and children from her home studio in Highland Park, where she specializes in lessons for children. In addition, she has taught in various schools and nursing homes in the New Brunswick, Piscataway and East Brunswick areas. It’s hard for her to walk down the block in her hometown without running into her students or their families. Many of her students have since turned their talents into successful careers: in landscape design, fashion, film, illustration, teaching, graphic design and even mask making.
She has always tried to foster the love and appreciation of the arts in people of all ages and backgrounds. Through this encouragement, she believes individuals learn how to unlock their creativity and inner talents. “Children especially love to create from the time they first pick up a pencil or crayon. They are like sponges as they learn to express themselves and find their own inner voice. Not only have I taught them, but I have learned from them,” she says.
“Unfortunately, many school systems have had to cut an array of programs from students’ curriculum; art education being one of them. Therefore, parents must make a concerted effort to provide every opportunity for their children to learn the various arts. I believe that art is an important form of personal expression, self growth, and a way to enhance one’s own self-confidence. In an effort to build on these strengths, I try to encourage my students through teaching them the importance of imagination, creativity and various styles that they will learn to develop into their own form of art,” she says.