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Weiser Middle School hosts artist in residence

Weiser Signal American of Weiser, Idaho

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Weiser Middle School art students took paintbrushes in hand for three days of instruction last week with artist in residence and accomplished watercolor is it Judith Brand.

Middle school art instructor Wendy Martell secured a grant of $1,500 through the Idaho Commission on the Arts to bring Brand to Weiser. Brand worked with about 80 students in the sixth, seventh and eighth grades during her residency at the school.

It all started, Martell said, when she took a summer class from Brand at the College of Idaho through the Art Powered Schools program. They worked together to apply for the grant and write the curriculum for the residency. The paperwork was submitted by the deadline of October of 2014.

"I took one of her classes and thought the kids would really like it," Martell said. "She does some really neat stuff."

This is Brand's fifth residency in Idaho schools, and she's had an association with the Idaho Commission on the Arts since 2006. Her passion for teaching began at the Hong Kong International School in China, where she resided from 1998 to 2002.

Birds and other wildlife, which are rendered with striking accuracy and detail, are the subjects she has painted and introduces to residency projects. She has been painting since about 1977.

On the first day of her residency, Brand introduced the students to her work and basic ideas and concepts in working with watercolors. She also touched on key principles of design and rough drawing. Painting with watercolors is technique intensive, Brand said, "and you just have to learn its tricks." She explained to students the "warm" and "cool" colors on the palette and which brushes are used for certain effects.

On the second day, Brand showed students how to work on their skills and the various techniques, such as "throw down the paint and let it do its thing." Students learned to create textual effects in watercolor, such as sponging, scraping, salt and splatter. They worked on their designs and tried out watercolor techniques like washes.

"I'm trying to have them explore and learn the different techniques in watercolor," she said.

Finally, on day three of Brand's visit, students worked diligently on their own watercolor paintings. Brand said she gets great satisfaction from passing on some of her own creative knowledge to students during her short visits to schools. Each student will complete a painting by the end of the art residency. The paintings will connect with each other with a vine that was painted on each one, Brand said, which represents that "we all live within a community."

Martell said the artworks created by the middle school students' will hang around town in the public library, Weiser Classic Candy and may be taken to the next school board meeting.

"The kids are excited to take them home," Martell said.

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Original Publication Date: March 25, 2015

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