MOUNT VERNON — At Jefferson Elementary School, a group of second-graders know all about the works of artists such as Vincent van Gogh, Claude Monet and M.C. Escher.
“I like how (van Gogh) has the spheres when he makes his art,” 8-year-old Brad Tormey said. “And I like how he uses different colors all the time.”
As part of the “Meet the Masters” program brought to the school by the Mount Vernon Arts Commission, students were learning Wednesday about the works of Dutch artist Piet Mondrian, whose use of lines, shapes and colors distinguished his art.
“Balance is a very important thing (in Mondrian’s work),” said Cathey Frederick, a retired educator who helped lead the class. “Red is a big, bold color, but it can be balanced by yellow and blue.”
The program has existed since the mid-1980s, according to its website, and has been held after school locally once a week for about two months, said Arts Commission member Andy Schuh.
It seeks to provide adaptable, affordable arts education.
“It’s an opportunity to introduce children to a wide variety of artists, artists’ styles and let them learn to be creative,” Frederick said. “They come back excited each week.”
The Arts Commission paid for the “Meet the Masters” curricula, which includes art supplies so students can re-create the work of famous artists.
“You can see they already have a lot of raw talent, so it’s fun to see them getting the extra exposure,” Schuh said. “It’s a lot of fun to see it happen.”
At Jefferson Elementary, the program is open to second-graders, but each of the lessons can be adjusted to other grade levels, Schuh said.
“It’s an enhancement to the art they already receive in the classroom,” he said. “The hope would be to expand it beyond just an after-school program.”
Amelia Anselment, 7, said she decided to take part in the program because of her grandparents and all the art at their house.
“At their house, it’s very inspiring,” she said.
Gabby Salaz, 8, said she wanted to attend the program because she loves art and learning.
“It’s very cool, because you get to learn and learn and learn and I love, love, love it,” she said.
The idea for the program was brought to the Arts Commission by Mount Vernon Mayor Jill Boudreau, whose children participated in the program when the family was living in California.
“It was so enriching for the kids,” Boudreau said. “They retained the information, they could tell about the artists at 5, 6, 7 years old.”
Boudreau visited the class Wednesday and brought a piece of art one of her children had completed through the “Meet the Masters” program.
The Mount Vernon students, she said, instantly recognized it as being in the style of van Gogh — the swirls gave it away.
“The fun part is watching them recreate,” Boudreau said. “They’re exposed to art as not just a pretty picture, but the person and the process behind being creative.”
The Arts Commission is looking for volunteers to lead classes. Volunteers do not need art or teaching experience. For more information, contact Joni Swanson at the Mount Vernon School District at 360-428-6110.