Rancho Elementary students meet Pablo Picasso
Thanks to an art program called Meet The Masters, put on largely by volunteers with support from the school and grant funding, students at Rancho Elementary are learning about famous artists and putting their art techniques into practice.
The Orange County-based Meet The Masters has introduced students to famed artists —- from painters to potters hailing from several counties —- such as Claude Monet, Vincent Van Gogh, Maria Martinez, Piet Mondrian, Henri Matisse, Leonardo da Vinci, Gustav Klimt and Pablo Picasso.
At Rancho Elementary, volunteer Elizabeth Harrigan, the mother of twin fifth-grade boys at the school, has led the program for the last two years, offering art instruction with the help of other parent volunteers.
The art lessons, held in the school’s art room and offered to students in all the grades, follow an hourlong assembly hosted by a Meet The Masters staffer who uses a slideshow and art samples to teach the students about the artist and his or her techniques. The program at Rancho is a mixture of art appreciation and application.
In the week that follows the assembly, Harrigan and the other trained volunteers, with help from the classroom teachers, bring out the art supplies and the students get to work. The students have used a range of mediums including oils, chalks, pastels, pens and clay, as well as printmaking. Their school’s program includes the introduction of five different artists each year.
Last week, students attended an assembly about Picasso and learned about his different periods of works and his unique abstract and avant-garde style called Cubism. In the art room, students are creating Picasso-like drawings using pens and chalk, an art medium most students said they haven’t used before.
“I don’t want to see two shapes touching each other in the same color,” Harrigan instructed the fifth-graders in David Cook’s class as they worked to color in an outline of a Picasso drawing Wednesday, following Tuesday’s Picasso assembly.
Student Lorenzo Mills said using the chalks was a challenge. Students were instructed to create piles of chalk dust and then dab cotton balls into the dust to fill the color into the blocks on the Picasso design outlines.
“They’re all over the place,” Lorenzo said of the chalk powders.
Kayla Young was one of the many students who said they were enjoying the art project despite the messy chalks. “We get to express ourselves,” she said.
Added student Steven Solis, “We get to do art and it takes away stress.”
Harrigan said she knows for a fact that the lessons stick long after the students learn about a particular artist.
“Parents tell me all the time, ‘It’s amazing my kids recognize this art when they see it in places.'”
“This also gives them a chance to touch professional-quality art supplies, too, and just get a taste of what’s out there at a young age,” she said.
Harrigan said she offered to lead the Meet The Masters Program at Rancho when she saw how much her two sons, Henry and Matthew, liked it. She also has a background in art, having been a hobby artist most of her life and working professionally for 10 years as an art director for a footwear company.
“She is a phenomenal volunteer,” Rancho Elementary Principal Pam May said of Harrigan.
Source: San Diego Union Tribune