Portrait of a ladybug: Art lesson teaches technique, sparks imagination | CraigDailyPress.com

Portrait of a ladybug: Art lesson teaches technique, sparks imagination

Steamboat artist takes Boys & Girls Club kids step-by-step through acrylic painting

Michael Neary

— As children at the Boys & Girls Club of Craig worked on their paintings Tuesday morning, they received some clear instructions from artist Julie Whitecotton, who was leading them through a portrait of a ladybug.

The whole act of painting led the children to imagine future images they might create.

"I like painting unicorns," said Avia Miles, a first-grader at Sunset Elementary School. "I wish I had a baby unicorn."

Whitecotton, the co-owner of Splatz, in Steamboat Springs, liked that combination of dreaming and of working on the creation of crisp images.

"It's kind of mixing the fun aspects with the technical aspects," she said. "It's introducing them to some of the basic brush skills and color mixing and also following directions."

Clockwise, beginning in front: Garrett Mercer, Eden Conner, Laurallie Latham (far left corner) and Mandy Watson work on paintings during Julie Whitecotton's lesson at the Boys & Girls Club of Craig.Michael Neary

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The ladybug the students painted was draped in stars and stripes, apropos of the Fourth of July.

Whitecotton said the whole exercise, which they did within a couple of hours, helped them to see a project through to the end.

"Sometimes you think, 'Where do I even begin?'" she said. "Just going through these basic steps helps them to go from the beginning to end."

Whitecotton broke down the act of drawing — and painting — into some fundamental qualities as she described her work with the students.

"Just being able to make shapes and get the shapes right (is important)," she said. "That's how you basically learn to draw: You make different shapes and then you connect those shapes."

And the process, Whitecotton said, helps children to tune their fine motor skills.

Whitecotton has come to the club before, and she's planning more trips this summer. She also teaches an adult art class in Craig.

As students finished up their drawings, they added touches of their own. Some ladybugs wore baseball caps or other kinds of hats, and the eyes of the ladybugs harbored varying expressions.

"I added diamonds," said Madalynn Mata, who's 8 years old, as she revealed a glistening ring of diamonds surrounding the ladybug.

Those touches allowed the children to go beyond the image they all shared, tweaking it and adorning it, making it their own.

"I like that we get to express what we want to," said Kadin Hume, 12, a Craig Middle School seventh-grader.

Contact Michael Neary at 970-875-1794 or mneary@CraigDailyPress.com or follow him on Twitter @CDP_Education.