Tuesday, February 22, 2005

Artist brings creative process to public school

PUBLICATION: The Ottawa Citizen
DATE: 2005.02.22
EDITION: Final
SECTION: Arts
PAGE: F10
BYLINE: Paula Roy
SOURCE: The Ottawa Citizen
ILLUSTRATION: Colour Photo: Pat McGrath, The Ottawa Citizen / Artist DavidW. Jones is creating a winter landscape in front of Elmdale Public School students this week.
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Artist brings creative process to public school
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A carefully prepared canvas, stained a vivid burnt sienna, sat in Ottawa painter David W. Jones's studio last week, waiting to be transformed into a winter landscape. The painting is being finished this week under the watchful eyes of nearly 500 students at Elmdale Public School.
Jones, whose work hangs in public and private collections across the country, is excited about spending this week as artist in residence at his son's elementary school.
"I hope that students will benefit from learning not only about the process of painting, but also about the inspiration and discipline that are fundamental to creating art. Our society needs people with this awareness and appreciation," says Jones, who began the project yesterday. "You never know whom you are going to touch in an experience like this. There are some kids who will fall through the cracks in school without exposure to the arts."
He believes his own benefit will come as increased understanding of how children perceive and respond to art.
Jones has set up his easel in Elmdale's front hall to give students a chance to observe and interact with him throughout the stages of bringing a canvas to life. Making art in public is not foreign to him, having taught painting classes for 25 years.
Artists in residence are not unheard of in city schools, but it has been more than a decade since the Ministry of Education provided funding for such a project. Jones says he's inspired to sacrifice a week of studio time thanks to his involvement with Parents for the Arts, a group that supports quality arts education for all children.
"I believe it's crucial for every school council to have an arts representative, to support the integration of the arts into the school's programming and activities," says Jones. "I'm hoping that my week at Elmdale will encourage additional schools and other artists to embrace this idea."
Jones's background is a testament to the power of art in school. He traces his career back to his Grade 4 teacher who wrote that he showed aptitude in art and should be encouraged.
"I already knew I liked art, but with this acknowledgement, I also learned that it was acceptable to think about a future as an artist," he says.

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