Listening to the art

Students paint images by capturing sounds

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— YAMPA

Children sat in the Yampa Public Library looking up and listening to the sounds of Belinda Rossi's flute. Rossi played softly and asked the children what colors came to mind for the notes she played.

Many of the children answered "blue" or "green."

"Very good," Rossi said. "Those are very calm colors."

Next Rossi played an aggressive, fast-paced tune, which the children responded to with darker colors. "What do you imagine?" Rossi asked. "How does that make you feel?"

The children wrote their thoughts on paper and then were given paintbrushes and water colors and asked to paint their thoughts.

Emilee Tritz, 7, painted a blue river and when the pace of the music picked up, she painted rocks falling into it.

The art lesson correlating music and art is just one of several classes from the third year of the South Routt Library District's Summer Reading and Art Program, which has more student and volunteer participation than ever.

Peter Daley, 12, listened to the music and also painted a river, but his river had people dancing on the banks. The people weren't dancing to the music. "They're dancing because there's no drought," Daley said.

Six-year-old Nicole Williams said the music made her think of a sunny day, while she painted the sun.

Rossi, who has played flute for more than 25 years, said she thought showing the children the correlation between music and visual arts was a great idea because it will help the children think of visual images when they hear sounds.

"All of us see or feel something when we hear music," Rossi said. "Music propels itself to a better understanding of the world."

This class was the third of the five-week program, which meets every Tuesday in Oak Creek and Yampa. Besides giving the children an opportunity to socialize with their friends, listen to stories and read on their own, it also allows them to meet South Routt artists who come to share their passion with the children.

For example, Paul Rutledge dropped in to show the children how he makes stained glass. Mo Shifter showed the class how to grow plants.

Bringing in artisans fits well with the Summer Reading and Art Program theme for this year, "Celebration of Community."

"As soon as we got the idea for the theme for this year, it just kind of stuck," program director Nita Naugle said. "We were so encouraged by this theme because of all the talented people in town."

"There are some really talented people in South Routt, and this gives the kids a chance to see them in a different light," said Judy Kendall, one of the founders of the program, who often reads to the children.

One child was surprised to learn a family friend had a talent she didn't know about.

Julia Luciano, 11, said she did not know Jeanne Willman could paint. Luciano said Willman taught her how to paint with a sponge.

Several of the children expressed how much they enjoy the class by arriving up to 20 minutes early for Tuesday's class.

"She just couldn't wait," a dad explained to Naugle about his daughter.

"The kids love this, but so do the parents," Naugle said. "Summers can be busy for them, so there's a need out there for parents who want something for their kids to do, especially when it involves reading."

Tuesday, the group will learn about the correlation of language and art and also make puppets. The next week, the group will learn about dimensional art and make ceramics.

"We want the kids to have fun, but we also want them to get familiar with the library and make it part of their lifestyle," Naugle said. "We want them to get excited about reading and art."

The cost of the program is $15 per child.

Twenty-four students are enrolled in Yampa and 21 are enrolled in Oak Creek, exceeding the registration limits but Naugle said she hopes the program can continue to grow to work with more children next year.

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