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Cultivating artists: Students get creative at PMHS

Isaih Miles used the shading technique when he created this picture of himself playing basketball.  Photo by Cassandra Favre

Isaih Miles used the shading technique when he created this picture of himself playing basketball.
Photo by Cassandra Favre


Whether it be the sun rising over the horizon, a rainbow after a storm, family pictures or a landscape hanging in a museum art is everywhere and the students at Picayune Memorial High School are learning first hand how to create and interpret it.
According to Americansforthearts.org, art education is essential. It benefits the students in a number of ways including motivation, attitude, attendance and involvement in art education.
Art teacher Lauren Cloutet has spent the majority of her life painting, drawing and creating art.
During her college career, she chose art education over architecture because she has always loved and been good with children.
During her free time she enjoys painting acrylic landscapes with an expressionistic style. She is mostly influenced by the culture and artists of New Orleans.
“Expressionistic style involves painting a landscape or object with bright colors and stylized brush strokes,” Cloutet said.
Cloutet has a mixture of ninth to twelfth-grade students in this year’s Art I class.
“Most of these kids have never been exposed to art before,” Cloutet said.
Cloutet begins the semester teaching techniques including drawing, shading and drawing in perspective, which is an illusion of 3D. Her main focus is showing the students how artwork tells a story.
“We analyze how their subject is drawn to tell a story and how to add emotional qualities,” Cloutet said.
The second nine weeks is based on painting and art history. The class studies the styles of different artists around the world and looks for their influences on other artists, Cloutet said. Students also work with primary colors to create their own hues.
“New Orleans artist Terrance Osbourne paints on black canvas, essentially painting in reverse,” Cloutet said. “He slowly adds light colors creating an illuminating effect on landscape. The class will compare Osbourne to Monet and Degas.”
The semester ends with a study in 3D art including pottery, ceramics, watercolor and acrylic.
Cloutet said the students that begin her class saying ‘they can’t draw’ are the ones that show the most growth and appreciation throughout the semester because they find out that they can create art.
“I love making use of my talent,” Cloutet said. “The most exciting part of my job is seeing the kids realize what they can do.”
The interpretation of a piece of art varies from individual to individual and Cloutet advises her students to put out a focal point in the piece of art and interpret how it relates to its surroundings.
“I tell them to analyze the person or animal’s body language and create their own interpretation of what it means to them,” Cloutet said.
Cloutet said that without art class, one might as well cut off the right side of their brain because art feeds the half of the brain responsible for creative thinking.
“Students develop the ability to think independently and create new ideas,” Cloutet. “Art also helps them channel tension, stress and emotions; it’s therapy. The products that they leave class with give them self-value and pride for what they’ve made.”
Colleen Carroll is in the tenth grade and said the class is her first experience with drawing.
“I like to draw, but didn’t think I was very good at it,” Carroll said. “I have since improved and learned that creating art involves making some mistakes. To me, creating art allows people to express themselves and show people the real you.”
Tenth-grader Jenna Larsen said she learned how to make pictures look 3D and how to shade.
“Art allows kids to express their creativity and serves as an outlet if they are having a bad day,” Larsen said. “When you have a harder class like math during the day, it’s nice to have that one period during the day when you can really relax and not work as hard.”
Isaih Miles is a basketball player and said that art helps with eye-hand coordination.
“I have drawn in the past, but this class helped me,” Miles said. “I drew a picture of myself playing basketball using the shading technique. I just thought about it and there it was.”
Imond Robertson said that he has learned that everything in the world is art. The class also helped him learn how to draw fish and how to shade.
Michael Wood is a senior and third year art student who has been drawing all of his life.
“Drawing is something I love to do,” Wood said. “My aunt taught me when I was 6-years-old. If we didn’t have art, we wouldn’t have all the cool colors and clothing designs.”
Learn more about Americans for the Arts at www.americansforthearts.org.