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Arbutus and Catonsville students at summer art camp

County's Summer Visual Arts Enrichment Camp draws 125 students

By Brian Conlin, bconlin@patuxent.com

1:02 PM EDT, July 17, 2012

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Evangeline Gallagher had already spent three hours looking at her reflection in a mirror by 1 p.m. on July 12 and had at least several more hours to go.

The Catonsville High School rising junior hadn't succumbed to a bout of vanity.

Rather Gallagher was studying her face in order to make a self-portrait.

The assignment came during the Baltimore County Summer Visual Arts Enrichment Camp for students in grades 3-12.

The camp, held at Perry Hall High School, began July 9 and concludes July 20.

"It's hard to look at my own face for such a long time," Gallagher said, as she took a break from adding to the charcoal outlines of her face in a sketchbook.

Besides having to examine every contour of her face, the project is removing Gallagher, who moved to Catonsville from New Jersey after school let out, from her comfort zone.

An aspiring comic book artist, Gallagher said she usually doesn't work with color and called the prospect "interesting."

Eileen Fitzgerald, a co-director of the camp, said Gallagher's experience is typical of the 124 other students at the camp.

"It's 5.5 full hours of thinking and talking about art," she said. "They will walk out with more than one piece of art."

Fitzgerald, an art teacher at Glenmar Elementary School in Middle River, explained that every student, whether elementary-, middle- or high school-aged, gets three different art teachers each day.

Those teachers encouraged the young artists "to explore new materials, solve any problems and become better artists," she said.

While the younger artists dabble in several small projects, the high school students focus on fewer, more-intense projects, Fitzgerald said.

By the fourth day of camp, students had already produced drawings, sculptures, paintings and digital art.

The experience had already made an impression on Gallagher, who said she has begun analyzing shapes and colors through different eyes.

"I'm learning how to look at things from an artist's perspective," Gallagher said.

Getting to produce art and receiving feedback about it makes the one-hour bus ride to camp from Arbutus Middle School each morning worth it for Carson Amersbach, a sixth-grader at the middle school on Shelbourne Road.

Carson, a St. Denis resident, said he prefers drawing and painting but had also made collages, sculptures, landscapes and digital pieces.

A collage he had produced as a caricature of himself sat in one of the second-floor classrooms.

Carson, like his classmates, had created an image of himself with his head too big for his body and pieces of painted paper to color his face, hair and ears. A picture cut from of a magazine served as one of his eyes while he drew the other.

"I like drawing pictures and showing my talent," he said. "I've learned (at camp) that I can add a little more detail and use different materials to become a better artist."

Using different media, Allison Conley, a fifth-grader at Halethorpe Elementary School, had a theme connecting the art she displayed on July 12.

In addition to a sculpture of a turtle that had a clay shell with paper body, Allison proudly showed off a fish with a yellow body speckled with polka dots that she had painted with watercolors.

Though she based her fish off photographs, Allison had to use her imagination when creating it because she combined two mediums.

"It's fun because you can do a lot of stuff with art," Allison said. "I feel creative."

That feeling also attracted Logan Schilling, a seventh-grader at Arbutus Middle School, to art.

"(I like) that you get to express yourself," said the Catonsville resident. "It lets you get out your feelings in different ways."

Logan said she prefers sketching and painting but also enjoyed using digital media and everyday items to make art.

She constructed a bridge out of Popsicle sticks with intricate lattice works connecting the top of the arches on either side of the bridge to the road.

H.D. Scriba, a freshman at Catonsville High School, spent much of the camp using oil paints to depict images of still life.

Having recently completed an art focus at Sudbrook Magnet Middle School, H.D. said the camp has taught him tools that he hopes to carry for as long as he keeps painting.

He compared a painting of a tea pot and liquor and wine bottles in the beginning of the week to his later paintings of doughnuts and of a green pepper and lemon. The colors in his first paintings had the tendency to blend, he noted.

After receiving advice from an instructor, H.D. learned how to use two distinct colors and still make the subject appear realistic.

"You can still blend them," the Catonsville resident explained. "But the idea is to have similar colors next to each other in order to make it look like it's a smooth transition."

A highlight of the two-week camp came on July 13 when he and the rest of the high school students went to Hampton Mansion in Towson to paint landscapes.

The camp was fun for more than just the lesson learned and art produced, though, H.D. said.

"Not only is it all about art, but you get to meet people and have a lot of fun," he said.