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Nolan Middle School students paint mural of native Florida

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  • | 5:00 a.m. November 9, 2011
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LAKEWOOD RANCH — Nolan Middle School student Quinn Birmingham can’t help but smile as she looks toward a wetland scene she helped to create.

Over the last six weeks, she and more than 20 other art students at Nolan spent hours completing a 25-foot-by-8-foot mural on the side of one of the school’s portable buildings. The school held a dedication ceremony for the project Nov. 7.

“I painted most of the trees, and I added lots of color to the grass,” Quinn said proudly. “It was cool (to do), because we got to paint a big picture and, while painting, we were able to decorate the side of one of the buildings.

“I feel like we accomplished something,” she said. “It looks good. I’m glad I helped make it.”

Nolan art teacher Wade Smith came up with the idea to paint a mural of a native Florida wetland scene last school year. He discussed the project with science teacher Carrie Rainwater, adviser for Nolan’s Green Team, a student group that promotes recycling and other earth-friendly programs, to get ideas for the mural and what it should look like.

This year, Wade formed the Fine Arts Club for Talented Students through the six-week mural project, on which art students worked twice a week after school. The scene depicted is based on a landscape portrait Wade himself completed in 1997.

“It was so different from the usual,” 14-year-old art student Colin Simmons said of the project. “You were standing on a ladder, trying to reach the highest places. It was extremely hard (to make it proportional), but it was fun.”

Wade said the project offered students an educational experience they simply couldn’t get in the classroom by allowing them to utilize a multi-step process in which they start with basic blocks of color and then work to fill in details in layers.

“The students had to know what to do and, if they made a mistake, how to fix it,” Wade said. “It’s really something to see the finished product. It was extremely exciting for me and the students to see the progress. It really turned out spectacularly.”

Student Tiffany Rojas, who turned 13 on Nov. 5, said the experience was fun, but challenging. Because landscapes are random in nature, she had to work hard to make sure her lines for grasses and other plants were not too methodically placed.

“The way things grow and how everything is not in order made it harder,” Rojas said. “I wanted to make the lines straight.”

Students on Nolan’s Green Team also participated in the project, selecting and planting Florida-native plants in front of the mural. The group paid for the plantings and also funded the dedication ceremony.

Contact Pam Eubanks at [email protected].


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