OAKHURST — Twelve kids skipped into the park Monday morning, and Tuesday afternoon, a dozen artists skipped out — treasures in hand.
The Bass Lake Education Foundation sponsored the two-day painting workshop, Art in the Park, with artist-instructor and photographer Courtney Lynn leading the way for students in grades 2 through 6.
Heads bowed toward canvas, the artists concentrated as they dipped brush-ends into lime green paint, creating a pattern with repeated points in an already intricate portrait.
The setting at Oakhurst Community Park was ideal, as leaves rustled in the cool morning breeze, the sounds of guitar and song drifted across the grass where people played, and the smell of warm trees in summer — plus a little BBQ — filled the air.
The special workshop was comprised of two days, twelve kids, one helper, one artist-in-park, one activist for enhanced education, and in the end — one unique, detailed, and truly beautiful piece of art per student as a take-away.
Each child participated in the same exercise, as the opportunity called upon news skills to make their own version of an artwork their teacher Courtney prepared personally for the class.
The work is a portrait that’s half woman and half tiger. In the course of recreating the bright and playful painting, the kids learned about the proportions of a portrait, along with techniques including Cubism, Pointillism, abstraction, plus embellishment, and color mixing.
The workshop’s sponsor and underwriter is the Bass Lake Education Foundation, founded by local web developer and parent Kriszti Mendonca, who organized the workshop after contacting Courtney, keeping costs down so it was affordable for all. As a bonus, Yosemite High School student Gabriel helped orchestrate the class on both days.
Painting with intense focus on Tuesday, the group was utterly absorbed in the process. Occasional conversation punctuated the creative flow, including the overheard, “I am amazing!” from one participant, as she looked upon the product of her labor.
When asked how such an amiable, productive gathering of a multi-age group into one cohesive artists’ cooperative could occur, Courtney thought about it for a moment and said there were a few elements responsible.
“They’re outside, there’s fresh air and a nice breeze. The project is more challenging than they might have expected and so they are more focused on that. It’s hard to do. They did things they’ve never done before, and that takes concentration,” Courtney suggests. Laughing, she adds, “Plus, they all have really great parents.”
Courtney noted that when it was time for a break, and the kids could play hacky sack or Frisbee, they all stayed in place to continue work on their respective masterpieces. It was the perfect was to spend a couple of summer mornings painting in the park, and they knew it.
Participating were: Stephanie Avina, Ally Ferbrache, Page Ferbrache, Colton Franklin, Delaney Franklin, Farra Franklin, Cole Irion, Jane Irion, Makayla Jeffries, Ian Mendonca, and Cailey Orcutt.
Up next for the Bass Lake Education Foundation? Kriszti says they’re working on developing a Lego Robotics program.
The Bass Lake Education Foundation (BLEF) is an independent non-profit public charity founded in 2009 after state-wide school budget cuts further reduced programs for kids in Madera County.
By offering free clubs, low-cost workshops, and sponsoring field trips, BLEF promotes a love of learning, nature, and the sciences through a greater understanding of the living world around us.
The organization is run by a small group of parent volunteers who do not take a salary and the organization has almost no overhead costs.
All proceeds go directly back into the programs for children. Children from Oakhurst, Ahwahnee, Coarsegold, and North Fork schools have participated in BLEF programs.