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Art Starts in School

This past week, I had the opportunity to teach a group of youth about art and the exciting medium of encaustic, thanks to funding provided by a NSG Creative Spark grant disbursed by ArtStarts in Schools and funded by Columbia Basin Trust through the Kootenay Columbia Cultural Alliance. The importance of these grants are invaluable to working artists, allowing us to share our skills within our communities, and especially to inspire youth on the value of the Arts.

Students from the Nelson Waldorf school, signed up for this workshop as part of their Project days, when mentors from the community come in and teach about their specific skill/craft/work. Many students signed up for this workshop and many who were not chosen for the group, expressed interest in taking it next year. The group I had, were so enthusiastic for the two day workshop.

We left the public wharf by boat, stopping at the native pictographs on the way. Once at the dock, we walked down a dirt road, through a trail to the art studio. The kids were already removed from their daily schedule from the brief travel adventure, that they were inspired to get their hands dirty (well waxy), creating art.

The two day workshop involved basic art concepts, like composition and basic colour theory, with a focus on encaustic. Students were surprised to hear that the Fayum portraits (from 1st and 2nd century A.D.), were made in encaustic (many of them had studied the portraits in school). The history, safety and techniques of encaustic were shared with the students. The students got a glimpse of what it is to be an artist and got to learn a new medium. Teaching them certain techniques allowed them to learn the methods and incorporate certain techniques in their paintings, and also allowed a starting point for those that were less confident about putting paintbrush to canvas.

Gently guiding them to express their own artistic style was most important, so they felt proud of their artwork, and learned to identify they have a style that they most want to showcase.

The encouragement between the students was very heartening. They were genuinely interested in supporting each other, and were interested in their message through art.

It was valuable to teach them about, a ‘day in the life’ of a working artist, They learned that it takes more than talent, and that dedication, hard work, being an entrepreneur, making decisions and getting in the studio on a constant basis is key.

The only negative of the whole experience, was that we didn't have a week long workshop to paint some more. The kids did not want to leave the studio on the second day, and are definitely enthused about art. Thanks so much to ArtStarts in school, for this opportunity.

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