DENHAM SPRINGS -- A group of budding artists spent three days creating Louisiana-inspired “Images of Summer” during a recent camp sponsored by the Arts Council of Livingston Parish.

Under the direction of gifted and talented art teacher Kerry Curtin, a dozen children in grades 2-7 honed their drawing and painting skills while creating works of art inspired by Louisiana wildlife and nature.

The class had a combination of beginners and advanced students, Curtin said, adding that many expressed an interest in pursuing art even further in their schools.

That made the art camp even more crucial — for many of the students, it was their first time painting on canvas, something Curtin said can be a challenge.

“This can be hard for some of the students who have never painted on canvas,” said Curtin, who has taught art for more than 40 years. “It’s different than painting on a piece of paper because the brush is more difficult to control.

“But they’re doing great, and that’s the wonderful thing about art — you can get better.”

On the first day of camp, Curtin said he displayed a still-life painting and explained the art elements that went into creating it, such as lining, shading, texture, and value. On the second day, students began working on their own pieces, which depicted a blue heron surrounded by cypress trees, lily pads and flying birds in a Louisiana swamp at sunset.

After drawing the scene on canvas with a pencil, the aspiring artists spent the third and final day of camp filling it in with a variety of vibrant colors. Curtin walked around the classroom giving pointers to the students as they worked.

“Don’t give up — we can figure it out,” Curtin told a student who was struggling with her painting. “You’ve come too far to give up, and it looks great.”

As they completed their paintings, all of the students said they enjoyed their time at camp. Chlea Bellony, a gifted and talented art student at Seventh Ward Elementary, said “it was fun” learning to paint a bird, something she said she’d never done before. Blayk Smith, a 10-year-old who paints at a nearby art studio in downtown Denham Springs, said she usually paints on canvas but that the still-life painting was a nice break from the abstract art she tends to focus on.

For Milly Bostick, who plans on trying out for gifted and talented art this year, it was a chance to not worry about making a mess.

“I hardly paint at home because my mom thinks that we just make a mess all the time,” Bostick said with a laugh. “I’m allowed to make a mess here.”

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