Kids getting Art Smarts with local artist

7
66
WEBArtsmarts.jpg

When Penelope Quirk steps inside a classroom, she gets a host of kids coming up to her to give hugs. All ages from 5 to 12 look forward to class time with her. That’s because Quirk gives them lots of smile-time with her lessons in Art Smarts.

Quin Crosley, 8, came up to Quirk to whisper her a secret, which earned her a hug. The loud, excited noise of everyone talking at once began building in the classroom. 

When Penelope Quirk steps inside a classroom, she gets a host of kids coming up to her to give hugs. All ages from 5 to 12 look forward to class time with her. That’s because Quirk gives them lots of smile-time with her lessons in Art Smarts.

Quin Crosley, 8, came up to Quirk to whisper her a secret, which earned her a hug. The loud, excited noise of everyone talking at once began building in the classroom. 

Quirk raised her hand. “One, two, three, eyes on me!” she shouted.

“One, two, eyes on you!” they answered back, and all eyes were on Quirk. Then she set about to the business of teaching them how to have fun doing art. 

“Today we are going to use pencil and oil pastels to draw a picture of a Fennec Fox. Anyone ever seen one of these?” Quirk held up a photograph of the long-eared fox. 

A chorus of “Aaaaawwwww” went up from the kids.

Carley Starkey, 11, raised her hand. “I see them at the zoo,” she said.

“Okay, you get your chance today to draw your own picture of the fox,” Quirk said, turning to the whiteboard and drawing a half-circle with a black marker. She left a small spot of white in the center of the half-circle. 

“This is the eye, and the white spot is the reflection. You know how we all have reflections in our eyes?” Quirk said, turning and pointing to her own eye.”

The students all giggled.

Next, Quirk drew in the rest of the fox’s face, complete with whiskers. Katelyn Collins, an Art Smarts instructor recently hired by Quirk, helped to pass around pieces of paper for the kids’ drawings. Almost immediately, most of the students went to work drawing on their pieces of paper.

Hannah Hardenburger, 6, felt very much at home with the kids around her, Jacob Starkey, 9 and his sister Carley along with her friend Mayalyn Mosso, 11.

“This is like an alphabet vacation,” Hardenburger said, drawing whiskers on the fox face. “”This year I’m learning the alphabet and it’s hard.”

Next to her, Jacob Starkey smiled and looked at her. “I remember doing that,” he said. “I like doing this because I can free-draw and color whatever I want—and I can talk.”

“You can put your own spin on it,” his sister chimed in.

The noise of happy chatter spun around, and then suddenly nothing but the sounds of strokes on paper filled the classroom.  

Crosley was one of the first to finish the pencil drawing. She walked up to Collins with her drawing. 

“Now it’s time for the pastels. Choose your colors and put it in this little paper boat,” Collins said.

One by one, the students followed suit and went to work with the pastels. A couple of them returned with the pastels, complaining that they were dirty.

“I’ll show you a little trick,” Quirk said, picking up a paper towel. “Just rub the paper towel around the pastel.” 

“Time to smudge,” Hardenburger said, smearing the pastel colors with her fingers.

“It’s fun to smudge,” said Starkey. 

Starkey’s brother agreed. “You get it all over yourself,” he said.

An hour and twenty minutes later, the students all seemed to be content with their work, showing their pictures to Collins and Quirk. Their parents were waiting outside the classroom. 

“You guys all did great. See you next week,” Quirk said, getting more hugs as she left with the kids and their parents.

As Collins cleaned up the classroom, she talked about why Art Smarts is such a smash hit with the kids.

“Penny is bringing art back to the kids, it’s true. But it’s so much more than just drawing. The kids are learning problem-solving, creative thinking, and collaborating with others. 

“They are learning, too, that the art world is unlimited,” Collins said.

With a Bachelor of Fine Arts from the Philadelphia College of Art, Quirk’s experience with bringing art to kids began nearly 12 years as the Art Docent Coordinator for Murray Manor Elementary in La Mesa. Her two daughters Mary, now age 20, and Emily, now 16, both attended the school. As Art Docent Coordinator, Quirk was the school’s art advocate, attending PTA meetings and utilizing a budget for art supplies. At the time, the law required only a one-hour art lesson per month. Quirk ended up going around to about seven classrooms per week volunteering to teach art classes.

In the meantime, Quirk put together an all-school art show during Open House. She gathered a group of volunteers to put on an after school art workshop, free to the students who were unable to finish a piece of artwork during school hours.

“When we saw the overwhelming thirst for art during these organized workshops, the principal agreed for an after-school art program to start at Murray Manor Elementary,” Quirk said.

Five years ago, Art Smarts was incorporated. Quirk and her hired art instructors now take the lessons to three school districts and recreation centers.  

As Art Smarts developed over the years, I realized that my artwork had become the actual lesson plans for the company, doing samples for the 165 some-odd lessons,” said Quirk, who has her own paintings on exhibit now at On the Edge Gallery. 

For more information on Art Smarts, go to www.ArtSmarts.net.

7 COMMENTS

  1. It’s actually a great and
    It’s actually a great and helpful piece of info.
    I am happy that you shared this useful info withh us.
    Please stay uss up to date like this. Thannk you for sharing.

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here