Art draws on student talent
Jason Anno's painting seems larger than life.
At any rate, the 6-foot-4 canvas filled with colorful swirls of paint towers over Anno, who stands about 6-foot.
And some might say it would be a fitting tribute, especially since this is Anno's senior year at Tonganoxie High School, if this painting were judged a winner at upcoming art competitions.
Larry Percy, Tonganoxie junior high art teacher from 1989 to 1998, and high school art teacher since then, said Anno was one of about eight students preparing to enter the Ronald Catron Memorial Kansas High School Art Competition, Lecompton.
For this competition, students submit photographs of their work.
Rebekah Clinger, another senior, planned to submit an oil self-portrait in the Lecompton competition. She philosophically said that art classes have added to her high school experience.
"Overall, through my art classes, I've learned and discovered other things that I'm capable of doing," Clinger said.
Of Percy, Clinger said he's effective at communicating with students.
"The class isn't so much about teaching art, to him," Clinger said. "It's more about caring for people."
Percy in turn, said he feels fortunate to have the students he's had.
"From top to bottom, senior to sophomore, this is the most talented group I've seen come through here in a long time," Percy said.
"I've had some of them since seventh grade that's one reason why I wanted to come to teach at high school when Ann Durham left I knew how much talent there was."
Sometimes dealing with talent means letting it go where it wants. That's the way Jason Anno sees it.
"I paint the way I feel," said Anno, whose favorite class in high school has been art. "He (Percy) will come by and give me ideas and stuff, but I don't follow them because I don't paint that way. I do it my own way."
Matt Legg, touching up a watercolor of an ocean tide banked by boulders, said last year he won an honorable mention for a painting at an art competition at St. Mary's College, Leavenworth.
A valuable part of taking art classes has been that it's helped him find ways to meet deadlines, Legg said.
"That's difficult for me because I work pretty slow," he said.
Senior Amy Galyean planned to submit a watercolor self-portrait. The finished painting shows a blond-haired blue-eyed teen-age girl wearing a western hat.
"The face was kind of difficult to do, but the rest of it fell together," Galyean said.
Galyean, a junior who has been a student of Percy's since the seventh grade, said she thinks she has benefited most by learning, for instance, that a nose isn't really defined by lines it's defined by shadows, she said.
"He's taught me a lot about self-portraits and about proportions that has helped me a lot," she said.
Another upcoming competition sponsored by Highland Community College may be a little more difficult to get to, compared with the Lecompton competition which only needs photographs of the artwork. That's because, when going to Highland, the students take their actual pieces of artwork with them on the school bus.
"We'll be taking jewelry, sculptures and ceramics, as well as paintings," Percy said.
Depending on the size of the art being transported, sometimes this can be challenging, Percy said.
He paused as he photographed a student's art, looked at Jason Anno's larger-than-life painting, and said, "I'm still trying to figure out how we'll get that one on the bus."