A class of Comox Valley art students walked away from a new project with shirts featuring their own art, some new skills and some big smiles.
G.P. Vanier art teacher Barb Mareck’s Grade 12 art class got a taste of airbrushing, (a painting technique using compressed air), learning from well-known local airbrush artist Kelly Everill and her daughter Ashlie. The Everills spent three weeks in the classroom, working one-on-one with each of the approximately 30 students to turn their stencil designs into custom T-shirts.
“It was a fantastic experience,” says student Emily Doll, whose design was inspired by the TV show Teen Wolf. “Everybody really had a great time; we loved it and it was a very valuable experience.”
Doll says she’s very happy with how well her shirt turned out and everybody else seemed to be happy with theirs, too. Student James Illerbrun says he’s certainly pleased with his design, a pirate symbol over the image of a night sky.
“I was not too confident to begin with but by the end of it I was pretty happy with the result, and I feel really good about what I’ve done,” says Illerbrun, noting this was his first time using a medium like airbrushing. “It was really cool. The instructors were very informative and they were very helpful and hands-on; it was good.”
Kelly notes airbrush techniques take time and practise to learn, and she was impressed with the students’ skills, especially for their first crack at using the tool.
“It’s just like an instrument; you have to practise and practise. This got them started off and got them excited about practising because they came through with something amazing,” she says. “They were all super excited and stoked about it.”
Mareck applied for a grant in the fall from ArtStarts in Schools, (funded by the BC Arts Council), and received $3,500. By also using some of her class budget, she was able to buy all the tools and materials needed to make the project happen. Like the majority of her students, Mareck had never tried airbrushing before, so she picked the minds of Kelly and Ashlie and made a shirt, too.
Now that she has the tools and some base knowledge, Mareck plans to continue airbrushing with her class.
Students will next create repoussé masks, (masks made out of metal), and paint them using the class airbrush.
“We have all of this equipment permanently here now,” Mareck says with a grin, adding airbrushing could even spread to other classrooms at some point. “Ideally, we’d like to tie it into the auto students, maybe do some painting on cars, that kind of thing.”