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Students experience plein air painting

About 20 Harbor View Elementary School students spent Wednesday afternoon on the Goldenrod Footbridge, using class art lessons and their hands to paint masterpieces that will be auctioned later this month at a parent fundraiser.

“It is freeing, far more than in a regular classroom,” said Eve Nycz, the school’s art teacher, who stopped by to watch the children paint. “I love that this takes kids out of the classroom. I love the sensory aspect of it.”

Parent Mark Akhavain, who paints as a hobby, organized the project after working all year with fourth-graders in their Art Masters classes. He provided the canvases and paint and chose the footbridge because it’s a landmark he and his family cross regularly to visit friends.

“I wanted to show them how basic things are,” he said. “They can use their hands — they don’t need brushes. Every single one of their paintings has its own beauty. Each one will be different; they pick up on different details. It will be something for them to remember for a long time.”


The finished paintings will be for sale at the school’s Parent Faculty Organization’s annual fundraiser, which will take place May 19 at the OASIS Senior Center.

“My dad promised to buy mine,” said fourth-grader Paris Paz. “It’s really fun. You get to feel the paint.”

Most of the students hiked from school to the footbridge, where they had snacks on a classmate’s front lawn while Akhavain demonstrated how to create a horizon and then add the footbridge, flowers and other details. He had placed canvases and tarps along the footbridge for the students to use for their work. The students then put on plastic gloves so they could paint with their hands with minimal mess.

Nycz said the project used many techniques that she’d been teaching the students from the time they were in kindergarten.


“They’re trying to apply the skills they learned,” she said. “Blending, overlapping, perspective. How great is this? They aren’t competitive — they are not comparing themselves to each other.”

“It’s really fun,” said Ellie Schoen, 10. “It’s good for the auction too.”

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