Going beyond traditional art class

High school art students get taste of silk painting, and will have their work on display at upcoming show at the Laguna Beach Nursery.

May 14, 2012|By Joanna Clay
(Courtesy Bridget…)

While most recall drawing and painting in high school art classes, Laguna Beach students got to try their hand at a very unique medium.

Thanks to a grant by Laguna Outreach for Community Arts, silk painter Olivia Batchelder has been mentoring 22 students in Bridget Beaudry-Porter's Introduction to Art classes at Laguna Beach High School.

Vibrant colors and drawings of tulips, cherry blossoms and palm trees canvassed the table tops Wednesday as students finished up their silk paintings, which will be on display during their upcoming show at the Laguna Beach Nursery.

"Silk is a vibrant medium to work with and it's new knowledge for them," said Batchelder, who has been painting silk for 30 years. "I've been impressed by everybody."

Batchelder got into silk painting due to economical need, she said. She started selling painted scarves at craft shows and found that people were drawn to it. She's entirely self-taught and noted there weren't any books in English on the subject when she started. She turned the hobby into a career and she's traveled the world to understand the medium, including four trips to Malaysia to study batik, a cloth made using a wax-resist dyeing method.


Blake Calabrese, a senior, said he enjoyed the project because it was "something different."

"I think the most interesting part of it is that it comes from caterpillars," he said. "That blows my mind."

Maryellie Jacquez, 16, said the medium uses techniques she'd never considered before.

When salt is dropped on the silk it creates "comets," an interesting reaction with the material and the paint. Maryellie dropped water on hers to create little splotches of color variation.

"Until Mrs. Olivia came in, I didn't know anything about [silk painting]," she said.

Beaudry-Porter pointed out that the grant provided a special opportunity for the students, since the medium would normally be too costly for the school to do.

"Having a professional come in to the classroom and share her experience with us is a real treat," she said. "The kids are seeing first-hand that art can be a career."

Twitter: @joannaclay

If You Go

What: Botantical Exhibit featuring Laguna Beach High School students, juried by LOCA junior curators

Where: Laguna Beach Nursery, 1370 S. Coast Hwy.

When: A reception, which is closed to the public, is May 23. The pieces will be on display until June 10.

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