Wednesday, March 6, 2013
With its wealth of natural beauty, McClellanville is an artist’s dream. Since 2000, art teacher Annie Purvis has worked to awaken the budding artists within her students at Lincoln Middle-High School.
This year, she may have found the key to success. And in doing so, many of her students discovered their own ability for art along with success in area art contests, such as the Federal Junior Duck Stapm Design Contest.
As part of a school-wide literacy push, each teacher at Lincoln must assign a class research project. Purvis chose to have her students research a duck breed and design a poster with artwork depicting that duck with information on the breed.
The high school students started by learning about John James Audubon and reading “Working with Nature,” a Scholastic piece on the artist. They also watched a PBS film called “Duckumentary.”
“They learned what it means to be an artist in nature,” Purvis says. “You’re a scientist and you test theories.”
Purvis, who used to teach black and white photography, had her students take photographs of sites, such as a historic church in the village of McClellanville at different times of the day, to see how the light changed from mid-morning to late afternoon.
The students then researched different species of ducks that migrate to Cape Romain. Species they studied include the Ruddy Duck, the snow goose, the red-headed duck and the bufflehead. Each student chose a particular breed to concentrate on. They had to identify the duck and describe its seasonal plumage. “They were fascinated by the fact that the males were more colorful than the females,” Purvis says. “Each student became attached to their duck and they became advocates for it.”
As part of their research, the class took a field trip to Bulls Island to test their duck knowledge and search for their breed of duck. They held a scavenger hunt and were able to teach the guide some things he didn’t know about ducks, Purvis said.
Sophomore DayAnna Gray didn’t see her duck, the red-headed duck, on Bull Island, but she did recognize some of the other breeds.
“I didn’t see mine, but I saw some bufflehead ducks, for sure,” she says. “It was neat to be able to recognize them.”
Gray says she chose to research the red-headed duck because its colors really caught her eye. She likes how its face is a shade between brown and dark sienna with a little bit of dark orange.
“I learned that it’s a diving duck,” she said. She wants to pursue art, adding, “I enjoy the value of colors and how you decide whether to use a warm color or a cool one. I like to blend them and how to use them at the right time.”
The combination of nature and art brought out the artist in Gray. “It’s very peaceful sitting in a setting you’re used to and you’re calm and drawing. It really makes you appreciate your surroundings. Gray’s painting of her red-headed duck earned her a third place prize in the Duck Stamp contest. Her art work, as well as that of her classmates, many of whom also received awards, will be on display during the inaugural Bulls Bay Nature Festival at the Sewee Center on Saturday, March 23 from 7 .m. to 8 p.m.
Art supplies can be quite expensive, and Purvis didn’t get a budget for art supplies this year. So, she has had to get creative in supplying her students with the materials they need. The art show and sale during the nature festival is one way in which the class will raise funds for art. Ten percent of each sale will go to nature projects as well.
Grants supply most of the funds Purvis uses to purchase art supplies and pay for field trips. She earned some award money after being named the Mary Whyte Art Educator in 2011-12 for a mural project her class did that year. She also won a grant from the Charleston County School District Endowment Going the Distance for Art Sculpture contest.
To learn more about the art program at Lincoln Middle-High School, visit the school’s website at lincoln.ccsdschools.com. Click on directory, then academic arts and then Annie Purvis’ name.
The art program can also be found on Facebook under the name Lincoln Middle-High School Visual Art. Those wishing to donate to the art program can also find a listing for it on Donors’ Choose at www.donorschoose.org under Ms. Purvis’s classroom.
“I just keep rolling,” Purvis says. “Obstacles are challenges, not road blocks.”