Although graffiti often is seen as a problem, Sykesville art instructor Vivian Davis sees it as an alternative style of artistic expression.
Davis taught students how to paint in the rugged, urban style this past week in her garage.
Shaking up their spray-paint cans and wearing face masks to block fumes, her four students wrapped up their graffiti designs Thursday on canvasses they had been working on since Monday.
Benjamin Long, 10, designed and painted black lacrosse sticks with flames in the background and wrote the word "LAX" on the top, which is a shorthand term for the sport, he said.
He said he joined the class because he thought it would be "cool." Benjamin said he would only spray-paint in the future at home or on surfaces he knew he was allowed to.
"I don't plan on going into the streets and doing it," Benjamin said.
Davis said some view graffiti with suspicion but said there are many examples of the art being used in a positive way, citing artists who have been paid to spray-paint large designs on walls in Baltimore.
She said she taught her students, who were all 13 years old or younger, to paint only on surfaces they are allowed to. She said she hoped they would continue to paint in graffiti style in their spare time.
"I want them to learn the technique and the style and want them to use it as expression or maybe something they can use to re-sell or maybe decorate their house with and do it responsibly," Davis said.
Caprina Smith, 13, wrote her first name in the middle of her canvass in bubble lettering, which she said would replace a similar painting that she has hanging above her bed. She said she might continue to paint in the style because it is different than what she will learn in school.
"It's cool to see it done in a legal way and kind of experiment," she said.
Students paid $90 to join the class. Davis also taught a drawing and sculpting class this summer and will conduct a cartoon drawing class this week.
Davis taught the graffiti students to use a wooden block as an edger when they are trying to create straight lines, a tactic that Caroline Maerten, 13, employed as she painted sun rays on her canvass.
Caroline painted a yellow sun with large rays emanating off of it, with a blue sky in the background and a wave below it. She said she was not sure she would continue to do graffiti in the future but likely would hang this piece on a wall in her room.
"It's fun," Caroline said. "I had never used spray paint until this week."