Preppy Possum painters: ‘Find your passion’

Kevin Spradlin | PeeDeePost.com Sixth-grader Jadyn Johnson puts the finishing touch on her owl painting.

Kevin Spradlin | PeeDeePost.com
Sixth-grader Jadyn Johnson puts the finishing touch on her owl painting.

 

Artist Nikki Cherry, husband Andy Crofoot guide students through painting, from start to finish

By Kevin Spradlin
PeeDeePost.com

ROCKINGHAM — With a firm shaking of her head, India Sturdivant indicated she didn’t like her painting.

India, a sixth grade student at Rockingham Middle School, wasn’t able to articulate what she didn’t like about it. That was simply her gut reaction. After careful consideration, however, she changed her mind — at least a little bit.

Kevin Spradlin | PeeDeePost.com Madison Jordan, sixth-grader.

Kevin Spradlin | PeeDeePost.com
Madison Jordan, sixth-grader.

“Mine is alright,” India said quietly as she and 17 other RMS students finished up the second Preppy Possum program, a painting session led by visiting artist Nikki Cherry, of Asheboro, and her husband, Andy Crofoot. The program is the brainchild of Academically and Intellectually Gifted teacher Nikki Covington.

Thursday’s session was the second of the year, and from the consensus of the group, Cherry will be invited back next year. Covington is not trying to convince these students — any of them — that painting is for them. Just as important, in fact, is that some of these very students will realize painting is not for them.

And in case anyone feels out of sorts, pizza, sodas and cupcakes help to ease the transition that the school’s media center into an art studio.

Covington said that initially teachers were more interested in the paint sessions with Cherry than students. But after learning about the program, “it wasn’t a hard sell,” Covington said.

She said many students’ initial trepidation included the phrase, “I can’t paint.” But through Cherry, students learned to paint with confidence in this and the March session, for which students paid $25 apiece to be a part of the 18-member after-school program.

Kevin Spradlin | PeeDeePost.com Aerial Spooner, sixth grader focuses on the owl's feet and the branch it is to be perched on.

Kevin Spradlin | PeeDeePost.com
Aerial Spooner, sixth grader focuses on the owl’s feet and the branch it is to be perched on.

Covington said she envisions the informal after-school group to become a place in which “bucket list” items can be checked off. Painting? Check. Pottery? That might be next. Photography? A strong possibility. The idea, Covington said, is to help students explore what interests them and perhaps to unearth hidden, undiscovered talents.

“This is the age where you find your passion,” Covington said.

In an environment in which conformity is the key to acceptance, art inspires students to be unique. To take a chance.

“Everybody’s going to be a little different,” Crofoot said, softening the blow for those looking towards the easels of their neighbors.

Anajah Redfearn seemed to get it. The sixth-grader was proud of her painting.

“I like mine,” Anajah said. “I put a lot of imagination into it. It’s my work.”

Anajah compared her work to the example Cherry had brought with her to class. Cherry’s owl, Anajah said, includes a longer beak, darker feathers, smaller feet and the owl offers the viewer more colors on the stomach. But it made no difference to the first-time Preppy Possum participant.

Kevin Spradlin | PeeDeePost.com Artist Nikki Cherry helps sixth-grader Makenzie Taylor.

Kevin Spradlin | PeeDeePost.com
Artist Nikki Cherry helps sixth-grader Makenzie Taylor.

Sixth-grader Treshawn Robinson said he liked the March session of the sea turtle better. Besides, he said, the owl was more difficult, and the turtle “has a bunch of lighter colors than the owl.”

Kevin Spradlin | PeeDeePost.com Brianna Baysec, eighth grade, concentrates on the task at hand.

Kevin Spradlin | PeeDeePost.com
Brianna Baysec, eighth grade, concentrates on the task at hand.

The owl is a more difficult subject, Treshawn said, “’cause you had to do a bunch of curves. But it’s not as hard as it looks when you’re finished with it.”

Eighteen students participated in Thursday’s program; about a dozen of them were repeats from the March session.

 

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