The island hopping theme evokes artwork campers within the Ligonier Valley

With sticks, stones, lots of color and even more imagination, Rita Haldeman’s young students explore cultures and art forms from all over the world.

In her 20th year teaching art camps in the Ligonier Valley of the Southern Alleghenies Museum of Art, the Jeannette artist decided to take the quintet of children aged 9-16 on a “trip around the world in 10th year” this summer Days “.

Haldeman shares what she has learned about several distant and diverse islands, from the Galapagos Islands on the equator to Iceland, and the class uses these locations as a starting point for a variety of art projects.

“We study as much as we can about the islands,” she said, “and then we have at least two or three varied projects with all sorts of media related to these places so that they can learn and have something to refer to can remember. “

In addition to the series of popular animated films, Haldeman takes her students on a deeper insight into the animal world of Madagascar, which is known for its many species of chameleons. Before the course ends on July 23, they will be producing chameleon-themed works of art.

Students will sculpt some of the animals they have encountered out of paper mache.

On Thursday, Lucy Vogelsang, 11, from Ligonier Borough, drew a sketch of a dolphin she wants to model. “I did some research on what kinds of animals would live in the different places, and there was a dolphin in one of the more tropical places,” she explained.

Her friend and colleague Leah Bielke, also 11 years old and a resident of Ligonier Borough, got additional inspiration for her fish sketch during a trip to the Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium.

“I saw tons of different colored fish that I didn’t even know existed,” says Bielke. “They had a large fish in the glass, but it looked very thin. I tried to recreate it. “

Students learned some artistic basics, including mixing acrylics and depicting the different shades that result from different lighting.

“I told them not to use black paint,” said Haldeman. “Adding black to everything tarnishes the colors. I told them to look at the colors they can see in the shadows – blue, purple, and magentas. “

Haldeman also emphasized the use of natural materials. Students painted ordinary round stones to look like different gemstones. Vogelsang used a shade of purple to make a facsimile out of amethyst, her birthstone in February.

The campers combine contemporary abstract shapes with the symbolic themes of traditional New Zealand art, paint sticks with multicolored motifs and arrange them in front of a background to make wall hangings.

“It’s summer so it’s fun,” said Haldeman of the camp. “But I want you to learn something and definitely take something essential home with you.”

Jeff Himler is a contributor to Tribune Review. You can contact Jeff at 724-836-6622,, or on Twitter.

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