“That looks beautiful,” remarked Seabird Island Community School teacher Debbie McGregor while checking out the creativity on display during a recent art class. “I like it. “Very nice.”
What took place next came as a bit of a surprise – and certainly put a smile on McGregor’s face.
“Do you just want to kidnap me for the rest of the day?” asked student Kayla Lachapelle as the session was coming to an end – expressing her strong desire to stay in art class.
“What do you have next?” responded McGregor.
“You have to get permission in writing.”
“I could get that!”
Moments later, Kayla returned to the classroom with Social Studies teacher Shawn Boyes, who indicated she indeed could continue to work on her art in his class, which would be viewing a documentary.
“Okay hun, you can go,” said McGregor with a laugh.
And with that, Kayla packed up her paint tray, her brushes and her current creation and walked down the hall to her next class, excited about the opportunity of continuing her passion.
“When I do art, it’s such a great experience to get away from all the stress. It puts me in a state where I don’t care about anything else, except being creative and being expressive. It really brings me to that place where I can think about anything I want, and express myself through my art,” explained Kayla, rather succinctly. “I think it’s really great that we all have the opportunity to do it. Not a lot of people like it. Some people do other stuff – like exercise.”
But in Debbie McGregor’s class – part museum, part art supply store, part library – is all about letting the creative juices flow.
“I love the fact that I give them an idea and they run with it. I showed them a few examples of pointillism – and this is what I get,” said McGregor while looking around the room at her students and their working pieces. “It’s just amazing how far it goes. They’re teaching themselves their own colour theory because these are the constraints they have to paint in. They’re learning their own way of mixing paints and figuring all that out. They’re really talented young men and women.”
Pointillism, Cubism, Monochromatic Surrealism – all forms of art McGregor’s class has been learning. So, what do these terms all mean?
“In pointillism you are painting a picture using only primary colours and dots, and you’re putting them side by side to get your colours. With cubism, everything is at angles. It was made famous by Picasso. It can be a realistic item, but it’s all at angles, using light and reflections. In Monochromatic Surrealism, the background had to be shaded – going from light to dark, or light to dark, which is how we got the monochromatic in it, and then they had to overlay a shape of some sort which was representational of something they liked.”
Heavy stuff for a group of 15, 16 and 17-year-olds? Not at all. These students are flourishing in their creativity.
“If you don’t know different styles, you can’t create your own, and that’s the whole idea,” said McGregor. “I have a feeling that one day some of them will be wonderful artists in their own right, and they’re going take a bit of everything and be able to make their own style.”
McGregor was asked how it makes her feel when a student, such as Kayla, wants to stay in art class – and continue painting.
“It’s wonderful. I tell them, if they don’t try something new, they won’t learn something new, and they might decide they really, really like it,” offered McGregor. “I’ve had that happen in sewing. I get kids coming in and going, ‘I hate sewing, I hate sewing!’ By the time they leave they’re going, ‘It’s done already!’”
As for Kayla, she got caught up in art at a young age.
“When I was a little kid, I didn’t have many toys, so I would always draw. Drawing was a big part of my life. My whole entire wall would just be covered in paper. You wouldn’t see a wall – it would all be art,” explained the Grade 11 student. “Then I moved on to painting, which became a huge thing to me. I got more into different things, like sculpting. It really bonded with me. I love it. I think sculpting would have to be one of my favourite arts, and then painting it.”
Considering she has many of the same students year after year, McGregor changes up the curriculum to keep students interested – from painting, to sculpting, to pop art.
And, most importantly…
“I usually pick up from them what they would like to do, summarized McGregor. “They get some input.” It’s all about creativity – from the teacher, to the students. Lachapelle hopes that creativity leads to a career. “I totally do. In summer I posted on Facebook because I did my make-up really pretty, and saying, ‘Your face is like a canvas and you can do it anyway you want’,” said Kayla. “It’s the exact same thing with art. You’re expressing yourself, and that’s how I see it.”
Seabird Island Community School students have their art on display throughout the High School. Check it out the next time you visit the school. It’s creativity at a young age which has the ability to inspire future SICS students – and career choices.