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The art of summertime learning

Revived Children's Art Institute wraps up its second summer session


Nearly 50 young artists developed their skills during a nine-day experience at the Children’s Art Institute, held at West Linn’s Stafford Primary School on weekdays from July 15 through 25.

The name is indicative of the experience students receive, said organizer Kelley Jones.by: PAMPLIN MEDIA GROUP: VERN UYETAKE - MacKenzie Weber receives instruction from Amber Sprague on her collage.

“We like to call it an institute, rather than a camp,” Jones said. “It’s basically a lab school and an institute. The teachers ... are there not only to teach the class but to deepen their own understanding and experience in the classroom. ... My goal is to help them ... (take) away much more for themselves when they go back to the classroom.”

The Institute has a long history although this is just the second year it has been offered recently. Founded in the 1980s, it ran in the summers until 2002, when the program was allowed to lapse.

Jones, a fourth-grade teacher at West Linn’s Bolton Primary School, previously interned and taught at the Children’s Art Institute and now serves as its director. She says she is working with the district to ensure continuity by having interns work with teachers and then return as teachers themselves.

by: PAMPLIN MEDIA GROUP: VERN UYETAKE - From left, Dillon Silva instructs Julia Winkle and Maura Schramm on their cut-paper collage mural.One such intern is Dillon Silva, a 2012 graduate of Art and Technology High School now attending the Children’s Art Institute as a volunteer for the second year in a row. A student at Pacific Northwest College of Art in Portland, Silva said he intends to become an art teacher.

“This is a really important step in learning what that’s all about,” he said.

He has been involved at the camp on many levels this year, from planning to prepping. But he said he has one clear favorite activity.

“Interacting with the kids. That’s what I enjoy doing,” he said.

Silva became involved with the Institute when his high school Advanced Placement art instructor suggested he look into volunteer opportunities there. Now he enjoys helping students learn and develop their artistic vision and technical skills.

“It’s a really great opportunity,” he said. “I wish I’d had something like this when I was a kid, to steer me much earlier toward art. I never thought of myself as an artist until later in life.”

by: PAMPLIN MEDIA GROUP: VERN UYETAKE - Peter Woltjer works on a collage.Children attending the Institute this year range from incoming first-graders to incoming seniors in high school. Ryan Lew, who will attend seventh grade at Lake Oswego Junior High in the fall, was eager to learn new techniques and practice old ones.

“I really want to improve my art skills because when I draw it doesn’t look right,” he said. “I’ve learned to mix colors and I will learn to draw humans and other animals.” After attending, he said, “I might want to sketch and color more than I usually do.”

Rachel Vedder, who will be a ninth-grader at West Linn High School in the fall, was working on secondary color washes, adding a second color to a painted square.

“I’ve never done the wash technique before,” she said. “It creates different textures.”

Vedder thought she would use the technique in her own art when she paints sky or background.

“We learn different stuff every day,” she said.

Other students cited the variety of activities as a highlight.

Maura Schramm attended the Institute for the second time this year. An incoming fifth-grader at Wilsonville’s Boones Ferry Primary School, she said she was enjoying drawing and using “Zentangle” techniques to add structured patterns onto her drawing of a birdhouse.

“It’s a really fun camp because you get to learn different kinds of art,” she said. “At school, you usually work on just one project but here you get to work on different things.”

While they were learning — and enjoying — arts techniques, Jones said the students were learning the process of making art.

by: PAMPLIN MEDIA GROUP: VERN UYETAKE - Ben Grady makes a journal entry reflecting on what hes learned.“We treat them like an artist and say, ‘You have a sampler in front of you,’ with several varieties of a strategy or work that they’ve done, and now they’re going to transfer that to a big piece,” Jones said. “And they can pick and choose from all the elements of principal and design” that they have learned so far.

“We send children out of here believing they are artists,” she said. “Many of them come to us, even if they are skilled artists, and say that artists are born, not made, that they magically have these skills.”

In teaching students that everyone has the potential to be an artist, Jones said that she asks children, “Did you start reading Shakespeare when you were in first grade? No.”

The Children’s Art Institute concludes this year with an art show from 6-7 p.m. Thursday, July 25, at Stafford Primary School, 19875 SW Stafford Road.



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