The annual five-day Art Camp took place at the Plaza Community Center was a success for the organization.
The event ran from July 16-20 with 43 children between the ages of 5 and 14 attending. Some children who attended lived locally, some came to visit grandparents from other locations.
“Art is very important to help kids express themselves. They are learning different kinds of skills – drawing and painting, blending colors, cutting,” said Janet Kelhoffer, PutnamART Chairperson. “It keeps them occupied. It gets them thinking
creatively so they can do problem solving better. They also make friends.”
“It’s OK if you make mistakes. You can turn mistakes into something else,” said Parker Holle, 9. “We have good teachers.”
Tarpley Pullin, a 10 year old attending the camp also enjoyed his time at the camp.
“I like having fun with friends,” he said. “And I learned to make a mug.”
Although the structure of the camp remains the same, different projects are selected for the camp every year. Just like in previous years, there were five art stations, and kids were divided in five groups. Each station had volunteer leaders, and each group of kids had a color for a name. Each group worked at each station for about 30 minutes, then they moved to the next station, participating in all five activities. They worked on their projects for four days, and on the final day they presented their finished products to their parents.
“I have to come up with a new idea every year. This year I came up with cats and dogs,” said Linda Erskine, the leader of Going to Cats and Dogs station, pointing at the paper cats the children made. “We are trying to pick a famous artist, and this is Laurel Burch. She is known for her fantasy cats.”
Laurel Burch was an artist, designer and a businesswoman. She passed away at the age of 61 from a rare bone disease, osteoporosis.
To make their own fantasy cats, kids cut out basic outlines out of the paper first. Then they did all the designs themselves on the front and the on back, used liquid watercolors to color them and then stuffed their cats with shredded paper.
“Kids made fantasy cats for the fun of it,” said Erskine. “They can take them home and use as a decoration or do whatever they want to do with them.”
Another thing kids did in this group were their version of George’s Rodrigue’s blue dogs paintings. “He is famous for his blue dogs. These paintings are very expensive. And he has written several children’s books about blue dogs,” said Erskine.
Children at the craft station led by Nancy Marshall and Linda Elkins accomplished a number of art projects. One of them was painting watercolor pictures that were turned into notecards. On the last day of the camp each kid had a pack of notecards to take home.
“We do a little research on what we think kids can do and what they’ll enjoy,” Marshall said. “We are happy to work, happy to help. We try it ourselves, make sure it works.”
Elkins said the activities have to be user friendly.
Rick Espelage, the leader at the Story Illustrations station, said it was the eighth year he did this camp.
“I am telling a story, and every day kids have to do another page,” he said. Each day of the camp kids illustrated one page, so in the end they had a five-page story,” he said.
Potters Elizabeth and Chuck Hanes said they’d been coming to participate in the camp for several years.
“Kids learned a lot of different techniques of making a mug using rolling pens, tools to cut and attaching a piece of clay together, sculpting,” said Elizabeth Hanes.
She also explained that the children had been making things out of clay for four days with the last (the fourth) day being a free sculpt day where they could use what they’d learned to make what they wanted.
“It gives them a chance to be creative. They can make up their own ideas,” Hanes said.
All pieces of pottery the children made had to be fired in a kiln that The Plaza has in the main building. Before they were glazed and baked, kids brushed color on the clay.
“When they are finished, they’ll be usable pieces of pottery with a glossy finish and everything on them,” Hanes said.
The baking process takes 24 hours, then pottery is covered with a final glaze, to make it shiny, and after that it cooks for 24 more hours.
“Kids don’t get [what they made] tomorrow. They have to come back and pick it up, usually in about 2 weeks,” Hanes said.
Children at Noel Schornhorst’s bookmaking station were putting together pages that were later tied to form a book they could use at home as a sketchbook. For Schornhorst it was the first time to have a leading role in the camp. In previous years, he participated helping others as a volunteer.
“I like this camp,” he said. “It’s more relaxed. It’s not like, ‘You need to get this done.’ You can keep working on one thing or go and do something else.”
The Plaza Arts Center offers a variety of classes both for children and adults. More information about them can be found at the web site https://plazacenter.org. Among others, there is a free After School Art Program for the children grades K through 8. More information about it can be found at https://plazacenter.org/after-school-arts-program-2018-19/.