Bringing naturalists and wildlife representatives from John Heinz Refuge to Towey Recreation Center gave Art Sphere’s summer art programs a new dimension to our environmental art programming and murals we paints with students.
Our students were delighted, amazed, shocked and curious about the taxidermy ducks positioned in flight that were brought, allowing students to learn how to draw from observation. Afterwards, students had the opportunity to proudly share what they have learned about ducks, their paintings and drawings with the experts. Moreover, the duck experts asked students about the habitat, mating, swimming, and flying habits of each of their specimens by having students look at different duck models and letting them make educated guesses based on their newly found knowledge. This was truly an enriching experience and made students feel important, successful and intelligent.
As many of the students said, they really looked at and identified all of the parts of a bird that make it unique – it was like identifying a person. For the majority of students, it was the first time they had the opportunity to use bird watching field guides and binoculars to paint in watercolors using scientific drawings and posters. Students shared that the ability to draw something realistically was a skill that their friends respected and admired. One student even pointed out that she was excited to show her friends how much her drawing had improved!
Drawing ducks from a model was a test for students. It required them to question their assumptions of cartoon life and to look at the real colors of ducks in wildlife with their Brown’s, allowing them to blend into their natural habitat of reeds and grass, and using iridescent colored feathers from oils that allow them to float, right plumage for attracting attention of potential female mates, and more.
Color shape, size, texture, and line in the animal kingdom is more than just aesthetics. It’s aesthetics that convey a deeper meaning. For drawing a duck without that tail feather lets the viewer know that the duck is injured and cannot fly.
Reporters from PBS Student Reporting Labs even came to talk to our students and teachers! Students were so excited for the chance to talk to reporters and share what they have been learning, and their artistic accomplishments! It was also so great to be able to have educators from John Heinz Refuge participate!
Thanks to the support of John Heinz Wildlife Refuge and the Federal Duck Stamp Program, we were able to offer Summer Program students the chance to get involved in mural painting! After learning about wildlife, conservation, migratory birds, and practicing drawing ducks, students were excited to come together to put their duck rendering skills to good use! Through paint they transformed the walls of the Towey Recreation Center, into a cheery wetlands featuring ducks and wildlife for families and community members to enjoy. Students were so excited to point out to us which duck they painted, and we hope they will continue to feel that excitement each time they visit the center.
It is always bittersweet to come to the end of a program workshop. As a finale to our art programs this summer, each site is hosting an Art Show featuring student artwork, and a path of duck footprints lead the way to the show.
We hope you will all take advantage of the opportunity to support conservation by submitting artwork to the Federal Duck Stamp Program or (if you are under 18) to the Junior Duck Stamp Program! This year the Federal Duck Stamp Contest is being held at the Drexel University Academy of Natural Sciences, in Philadelphia, on September 9 and 10! The event is free and open to the public! Don’t miss this great family event!