A school that supports the arts

The elementary school my two youngest children attend in Canmore is a wonderful place. As an artist, you always hope that the arts are a major part of the school culture.

From the time our kids joined the school two years ago, I was really amazed at the quality of art projects that were coming home. Like any school our kids have attended, the walls are covered with student art. But here at our local school, there is an extra effort put into art.

In the last two years, my boys (both under 10 years of age) have brought home a huge variety of art: a painting inspired by Raymond Brigg’s “The Snowman”; a collaborative painting that the whole Grade Two class created featuring our local mountains “The Three Sisters” in celebration of the 2010 Winter Olympics; birds and spiders made from plasticine that were inspired by the artwork of Barbara Reid the children’s book illustrator; and lots of other art including bright landscapes using pastels, wax resist and watercolor. The list goes on, and the creativity seems boundless!

Recently, I was asked to participate in the school gallery where a whole wall outside the library is dedicated to exposing the school children to art being created by artists who live in the community. Canmore is a very vibrant arts community, and I was delighted to be asked.

The school gallery where my work will be on display for students

Today, I was hanging my block prints in the school gallery when my son’s class wandered by. My back was turned, but I heard, “That’s my mom!!” followed by the clammer that comes from young kids who recognize someone they know. They were on their way to music class (which they have three times a week), but the teacher asked them to sit in the hall to watch me. Right away the questions started flying…

“What are you doing?”

“YOU did these?? How do you make those prints?”

“Why are there so many birds in them?”

My son put up his hand. I nodded to him and he said, “Can you show them the one I am in??” Of course, I remembered to put it up, and so I pointed it out to the group.

Another boy put up his hand, and when I asked him his question he said, “I once had a babysitter who put me in a painting!” We both agreed that this was really a neat thing when it happened to you.

Another girl held her hand up. When I said, “Yes?” she said enthusiastically, “I LIKE your necklace!”

Then the teacher said they would have to head to their music class, and she thanked me for sharing with the class. She probably knew it was my absolutely pleasure. One little girl stayed behind and tugged on my arm and asked me a heartfelt question: “Can I buy one?”

Of course, she made my day.  As she skipped away, I thought how lucky my kids are to be part of a school that not only takes time for art, but one that nurtures it and makes creativity a regular part of every day.

The act of art-marking (or singing, or drama, or creativity in any of its many expressions) brings so much to young minds. I’m glad to be part of a school where it’s an integral part of the childrens’ everyday life. How nice is that?

Grade Two class collaborative painting of our local mountains, signed on the back by all the students

My son’s “Mountains at Sunset” done with pastels, watercolor and resist in Grade One

My son’s Chickadee made out of plasticine in Grade Three, inspired by Barbara Reid’s illustrations

My other son’s spiders made out of plasticine in Kindergarten, based on the work of Barbara Reid

My son’s interpretation of “The Snowman” (made in Grade Three) inspired by Raymond Brigg’s story and illustrations

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