The sky is the limit at a local art camp, where the only thing holding back the budding artists is their imagination.
Dozens of children in kindergarten through fifth grade converged on the State Fair Community Center campus this past week to take part in Camp Blue Sky, which is an experience in the variety of fine arts for children.
The five-day camp is taught by experienced teachers and professional artists and gives attendees the opportunity to sing, dance, act, paint and sculpt. The camp is sponsored by the Cooney Endowment for the Arts and SFCC.
Organizer Barbara Cooney said the theme for this year’s camp was “Quest for Leonardo,” and campers were invited to explore the paths of genius with Leonardo da Vinci, sharpen their senses, awaken their curiosity and open themselves to “blue sky thinking.”
On each day of the camp, the children were divided into small groups based on age. They moved from classroom to classroom in the Stauffacher Center learning photography, writing poems and creating a variety of art works.
Every day also had a theme based on an Italian word. The campers celebrated “a curious approach to learning,” “a commitment to test knowledge,” “the cultivation of fitness and poise,” “refinement of senses” and “an appreciation for interconnectiveness of all things.”
On the fourth day of the camp, the children were invited to create hats to wear in a “Pageant of Hats.” Campers took everyday hats such as baseball caps and cowboy hats, and embellished them with eyes, bows and flowers. Others created Dr. Seuss-like hats from paper, and one camper turned a green visor into an outer space alien complete with foil antennae.
Bailey Brown, a 6-year-old Dresden student, chose to wear a red crown made from thick paper, which she decorated with brightly-colored feathers and stickers.
“The only thing I knew how to make was a crown,” she said.
Cooney said the campers were encouraged to create the hats to honor Leonardo da Vinci’s love of pageantry with their heads as the work of art.
While Bailey enjoyed making and wearing her regal crown, she said her favorite activity was painting. Under the instruction of Lori Larimore, Green Ridge art teacher, Bailey created a tree using tissue paper, oil pastels and acrylic paint.
Larimore said the group began the tree project by visiting the Daum Museum of Contemporary Art to view the “Arboresque” exhibit. The students also viewed a picture book which depicted da Vinci’s large painting of a tree on the vaulted ceiling of Sala delle Asse, or room of the wooden panels, in the northern tower of a castle in Milan.
“This is a way to tie contemporary to something Leonardo might have painted,” Larimore said.
Larimore taught her students how to use the media, the purpose of a horizon line and how to create shaded areas under the trees.
Bailey chose to place her round, leafy tree on a sloping hill and even tried her hand at adding water to the oil pastels to create a watercolor effect.
“I love to draw and I do it all the time at home,” Bailey said. “This is my first time using oil pastels and I’m having fun.”
Local artist Alan Weaver guided his group through the steps to create flying machines using wood and cardboard. Large plastic bins, filled with embellishments including feathers, tiny cone-shaped lights, beads, ribbons and yarn lay in the middle of the floor to be used by the children for decorations.
Weaver said the campers were creating the art pieces to mimic the flying machines drawn by da Vinci.
“They didn’t have to make a plane,” Weaver said, “it could be a bug or even a bird.”
According to Weaver, one girl opted to create a fighter plane with guns.
“I asked her, ‘Who said girls can’t make planes?’ ” Weaver said, “and she said, ‘Boys.’ ”
The students in Weaver’s class also spent a session working with clay to create pilots for their aircraft and heads to attach to parachutes. The students planned to launch the parachutes from a large sling.
Marta Treuner, 9, created a perfectly round head with round eyes and a large mustache.
Marta chose dark brown paint for the hair and mustache.
“Look,” she told her table mates, “isn’t he scary?”
Marta said she has been attending Camp Blue Sky since kindergarten and always looks forward to the event.
“I’ve been coming here ever since I could,” she said. “I like it because I get to do things I don’t get to do every day.”