It was one of their very last projects for the week, and all 11 of the children were in varying degrees of the task at hand.
Some had selected their paint colors and were deciding upon designs, some were adjusting the oversized black garbage bags they wore to stay clear of becoming a painting themselves, and others were involved in pressing the wrinkles from their brand new white t-shirts to prepare to start.
It was all part of getting ready for painting and designing their very own customized t-shirts with instructor Penny Arnold during Pell City Center’s very first Arts Camp ever, which ended this week with a bang.
“I’ve been so impressed with the kids and what they’ve done here,” said Kathy McCoy, artistic director for Pell City Center. “We’ve been so fortunate to have Penny come in to do this, and the result has been outstanding.”
There had been thoughts of having an art camp before, but in past years, youngsters in the area had other outlets for artistic enrichment during the summer months.
When that option no longer was at hand, the creative staff at Pell City Center decided to take it on themselves. McCoy said.
Offering the Arts Camp was done in addition to holding a Drama Camp at the center earlier this summer.
The week-long camp included sessions for elementary age students as well as older campers, offering the activity for ages 7 through 14. Morning sessions were for the younger age group and the older group met in the afternoons.
Just a sampling of their work from the week of instruction included mosaics and tiles, studies in composition and lines and patterns, and studies of some of the great artists themselves.
For the t-shirt project Friday, Arnold chose to tell the children about the painter Jackson Pollock, whose work became known in the art world as “splatter and drip.”
He preferred to”paint” upon materials stretched upon the floor for its hard support.
During her introduction, Arnold used a large stretched canvas done in Pollock’s style, to recreate the method for the students.
She began by asking the children what the word “expression” meant to them.
The very first child to answer nailed the answer, offering “Expressing your feelings.”
Arnold expanded on the thought, telling the students that when an artist is painting, “You can see their experience in their painting.
“You can see if they’re really excited just by the way that they put the paint on,” Arnold said.
Another camper recognized Pollock’s work as “abstract,” and asked if he had been the first artist to utilize the method.
“No, he wasn’t,” Arnold told the group. “But, he was the first to use this drip technique.”
Back to the project at hand, the students soon began mimicking Pollock’s method in painting their shirts, as they were spread out on the Pell City Center stage like tiny drop cloths themselves.
Passing around tubes of multi-colored paint, the individual designed emerged against sprayed on backgrounds of black, yellow and other dominant colors.
Their lines intersected and intertwined, traveled outside the lines and back inside, all meant as an exercise in learning the steps an artist takes in creating a piece of art.
Looking over the piles of finished art work stacked on the stage and panels used to display the various applications the campers dabbled in throughout the week, each young artist had their own ideas about what they seemed to enjoy the most.
“I like the sunset I made, and doing the glass mosaics,” said 8-year-old Madison McCay.
At the end of Friday’s camp, each student received a surprise “Certificate of Creativity” presented by their teacher, and enjoyed an end of camp reception with their family and friends.