Children's Canvas Conversations | Jackson Free Press | Jackson, MS

Children's Canvas Conversations

Local artist Rosalind Roy, or Roz as she prefers to be called, does not like to think of herself as a teacher—not in the traditional sense of the word, that is. And calling her a teacher might be mischaracterizing the work that she's doing at her summer art camps for children that she holds at her spacious studio in Fondren.

She's showing them art "the Roz way," by emphasizing the importance of creation for self-expression. For Roy, every painting has a totally different meaning and a unique story, and she hopes to pass this art philosophy on to her participants.

Roy begins each morning session with the children by talking about the basic techniques of either paper collage or finger painting (depending on the workshop), showing them examples of her own work, and then she lets the kids go and explore. While the largest group she takes is 10 children, she really enjoys the smaller sessions of four or five because of the one-on-one time she can devote to each child.

But Roy tries to show them more than the technical side of art. As a child, Roy says she had a difficult time expressing herself verbally, and her art was her form of expression. The use of art as an emotional outlet is something she wants to teach her participants. She wants them to know that things you can't say to anyone else, you can say on your canvas.

"For me, I look at art as where a person can put all their hurt, all their pain; it's like you talking to your canvas ... you talking to that medium," she says. "It's them expressing themselves."

The artist takes each child's work seriously, helping her or him establish a sense of pride in what they're creating. On the last day of the camp, she has each child present two or three pieces of artwork to the class. The child stands in front of the group, introduces him or herself as a professional artist, tells the name of the pieces and the story behind each creation.

While she has worked with kids before, this is the first time Roy has hosted a workshop in her studio. It's been a learning experience for her, as well. After a couple of sessions, she became fascinated with how different children responded not only to their own art, but also to hers. The younger boys seemed determined to set themselves apart from the others, she says, while the younger girls were obviously influenced by Roy's own work that literally covers every inch of the walls of her studio.

Watching children react and discover art is one of the main reasons Roy wanted to do the camps. "They're innocent and open to new ideas," she says. "They aren't judgmental about art."

The children and their parents' responses to the camps have been positive, so positive that some parents have asked Roy about ways for them to pursue art more seriously. Although Roy is thrilled these parents are reacting so supportively to their children's work, she reminds them that they've got to let them be children, to experiment, fail, explore and learn.

Next summer, Roy would like to try her art camps with an even younger group: 3- to 5-year-olds. She believes it's never too soon to introduce a child to art, and she is also curious to see what a 3-year-old can do with finger paint and a blank canvas.

Roy attributes her personal success and her success with the summer camps to God. "When you have an artist who loves what they're doing, it's going to always be blessed. It's going to always be good," she says.

She refers to this positive spiritual presence as spirit, and she encourages each child to sit quietly, listen to his own spirit and see what comes out.

On Aug. 21, children in Roy's art camps will display their work at the Mississippi Arts Center, 2-4 p.m. Though art camps end this week, if you are interested in private art lessons, contact Roy at 601-954-2147.

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