A Project for Better Journalism chapter

Demon Art is from the Heart


What can be considered art? Many things such as sculpting, painting, drawing, photography, and even music production are considered to be art. Lots of students here at Greenway are in art classes or have skills relating to these arts.

Sophomore Ciera Ladd said that she got into art because it’s a fun way to pass the time. Her go-to style is abstract impressionism, which is a type of abstract painting where small brushstrokes or application of paint with a palette knife build up to make a piece of art. Ladd said that, usually, people are what inspire her to paint. Her advice for beginning artists is to “take it seriously, but take it slow.” She mentioned that hands are always hard to draw for her. When asked what is difficult about art, she said, “It’s hard to study fresco renaissance paintings and simultaneously stay updated on social media”.

(Watercolor art and grid drawing by Ciera Ladd)

Junior Kiely Hewett, who has been into art since she was a small child, mentioned that art gives her the ability to “bring out the real world and make it something else”. She started taking art in Ms. Benson’s class this year. She mentioned that she likes pencil drawing and that her style of drawing depends on the mood she’s in. The advice she would give to new artists is to “always keep drawing and practicing, and you’ll improve”.

(Watercolor art and grid drawing by Kiely Hewett)

Another junior who takes art, Lizzy Muntz, said that she took art because it’s common in her family. She’s been in art classes for three years. “My surroundings inspire my art,” said Muntz. Her favorite medium is watercolor. The advice she would give to a beginning art student is to “never give up.”

(examples of watercolor art)

There are many different types of art, all of them very exquisite and distinct. The world of art is vast and interesting; every piece of art is unique.

Shoes by Sydney Cao, Lizzy Negro, and Vanessa Martinez

A piece by Ms. Benson

What made you want to be an art teacher?

Originally I wanted be a graphic designer and attended college for that.  After some reflection I decided that I did not want a career where I’d be sitting at a computer/drawing table being told what to create.  I put college on hold for a few years and actually ended up working in my own sign business. In this venture I often applied what I had learned in graphic design classes for both sketches of sign ideas and logos for clients.  

After having my two youngest sons I decided to go back to school, finish my degree and also get teaching credentials.  I was inspired to teach from a conversation with a retired teacher friend in Michigan—and also thought it would work out well for my young boys as they also entered their school years.

What are the best and worst parts of your job?

The very best part of my job is getting to share what I love to do with my students.  Right up there with that is seeing a student who believes they are not “able” to create art find success with a technique or assignment.  They gain confidence and a sense of true personal accomplishment. Creating art is a problem-solving process. These skills are a valuable asset for young people to have going forward in life.  The worst part? Honestly that’s not an easy question. I guess I would have to say that it relates to funding; trying to run a program with a very limited budget. Every year the cost of supplies and equipment goes up but the budget doesn’t.  It’s truly difficult and if it weren’t for parents/community members giving tax credit donations it would be even a greater struggle.

Do you have any interesting personal projects you’ve worked on? If so what were they?

 I have worked on so many!  In the summer I am a traveling mural artist.  I combine my road trips AWAY from the AZ heat to visit family and friends with working.  I’ve been doing this the past three years and it has worked out great; I get to meak extra income doing what I love.  I have done mural work in northern California, Colorado and Michigan. Anything from a small section of someone’s backyard fence to the side of a three story building!  My favorite job last summer was a 140 ft privacy fence with poppies in Loveland Colorado. I have been hired to come paint the other side of the same fence next summer. The most common subject matter so far has been floral designs. This past summer I did a historical scene in a small town that included some classic cars-that was fun. I also do other types of of art such as custom pinstriping/graphics on motorcycles, lettering names on boats and of course signs. I just started using Instagram and anyone is welcome to follow my work @upperhand.benson

What’s your favorite project/lesson to do with your students?

My favorite unit to teach in 3D Design is clay.  I thoroughly enjoy this medium and it is quite forgiving as far as creative ability; it’s not difficult to be very successful with it as long as students follow the basic guidelines.  In Art (2D) it’s really difficult to respond to the question! I do enjoy teaching watercolor to Art 1-2 students, especially for the Zentangle assignment. These are beautiful pieces that evoke emotion in the viewer whether it be happiness or something more quiet and reflective.  A totally do-able art piece for anyone! It involves basic watercolor techniques combined with fine line black ink patterns and doodling!

Art is therapeutic in so many ways.  Engaging in the creative process can be a temporary oasis from a rigorous schedule or day.  It is also an opportunity for the student to express feelings/concerns or desires visually. Getting your hands dirty and the feel of the clay can quiet the mind; art taps into the right side of the brain and actually can have a calming effect, allowing for focus and concentration for periods of time that sometimes is difficult to achieve with other tasks. Art feeds your soul!