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Welsh Valley Art Teacher Todd Marrone: Man of Many Media

The Belmont Hills father of two exercises his creativity in a variety of venues.

When Todd Marrone isn't teaching, he's painting. When he's not painting, he's writing. When he's not writing, he's on a podcast. And no matter what he's doing, he's tweeting:

  • "Chinese handing stars are safer, but you still have to know what you're doing."
  • "There has to be an easier way to learn about dinosaurs than having kids."
  • "Look, @CourteneyCox just joined Twitter. She's going to ruin it just like she did when she climbed on stage during Dancing in the Dark."
  • "Breathe Wrong® nasal strips are just clothes pins. Save your money."

Marrone, 37, a art teacher for 15 years and a Belmont Hills father of two, has entertained a variety of interests and media since he was young.

"For me, it's important to always have projects going," said Marrone, 37. (When giving his age, he added, "I'm reading at a 50-year-old level.")

Marrone grew up in the northeast suburbs of Philadelphia as an only child, convinced he would grow up to be a monster-movie makeup artist. He drew and painted often and watched endless television in all flavors.

He attended Kutztown University and joined Welsh Valley's faculty once he graduated but continued producing art and marketing it on his new website, a novel approach for an artist in the 1990s.

"I got lots attention from local media and international media for using the Web," Marrone said. "Nowadays, you can't even really be an artist without sharing your work online. Producing anything is all about putting it out there and seeing how people react to it. It's very social. For me, a piece of artwork doesn't feel finished until I've shared it as publicly as I can."

Marrone is part of a group of friends that produce podcasts known as Used Wigs Radio, riffing on music, art, writing and culture in the Philadelphia area. They've produced 93 episodes over six years.

He started using Twitter after one Used Wigs interview subject told him about it. At first, the tweets were for promoting his art, "but every once in a while, I would just write something silly, and I began to get a really positive response."

Aggregators of comic tweets such as HappyPlace.com and WitStream.com began picking him up, Marrone said: "To see my tweets alongside professional comedians' is really rewarding."

Marrone knows "I might walk the fine line" as a teacher making jokes on Twitter, he said: "I live very publicly. I recognize and I know that to my boss or to my students, I have a responsibility as a role model."

The Internet has been a boon to young fans of art, Marrone said, remembering how much longer it took him to form his artistic tastes when he was his students' age.

"They can really find work (online) that speaks to them. I do see kids actively seeking out and getting excited about artists and artwork," Marrone said. "I think it's a great time for a young person to become interested in art."

Marrone's children with wife Heather are ages 4 (Rocco) and 1 (Matilda). He said he won't push them to be artistic or to be involved in as many activities as their dad is.

"I think nurturing their interests is the most important thing. I want to be supportive no matter what they do," Marrone said. "Maybe they'll rebel and be accountants or something."

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