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Students Learn By Doing At Art Day Camp
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Normal 0 0 1 25 144 oakdale leader 1 1 176 11.1287 0 0 0 Instructor Debi Bonsack assists Javan Pritchard, 12, of Oakdale with elements of his self-portrait at the art day camp she is hosting in Oakdale. - photo by KRISTA ANDERSON/THE LEADER

In an art studio tucked into the countryside of Oakdale, 12 young art students are learning about various art mediums while developing their self-esteem at an art day camp.

At the Bonsack Art Gallery, under the instruction of Debi Bonsack, the students are getting introduced to various art forms, including 3-D, watercolor, scratchboard and self-portraits. The camp began June 28 and continues through July 2. The students, two boys and 10 girls, range in age from 7 to 13.

“It was quite the challenge to find activities they’d all be interested in,” Bonsack said.

Even though the age range is difficult, the interaction is great because the older kids can help the younger ones, Bonsack explained. Although she has taught art for 25 years in junior high and high school, this is the first camp of its kind, which is a dream realized for her, she added.

“My focus is on the students’ self-esteem,” Bonsack said.

Each day camp instructors attempt to blend physical activity with art to provide a beneficial experience for the students, Brad Keith, the physical education provider for the camp said.

He also mentioned that the physical activity time allows the students to calm down and focus on their art.

At the end of the camp, each student will have six completed pieces that are unveiled at an art show they will put on for their parents. The students will make dinner for their relatives, and prepare and hang their work, similar to a regular art show, Bonsack said.

Most of the students are local, but McKenna Canavan, 10, is from Brentwood and found out about the camp from a pen pal.

“I am looking forward to learning how to make everything 3-D,” she said.

Most of the students are attending the camp because they “like art.”

Javan Pritchard, 12, of Oakdale said his favorite part has been “drawing a loaf of bread and a guy.”

As the camp continues, the students will have the opportunity to explore the 10-acre farm hosting the camp for inspiration. The farm is home to various animals and has access to the Stanislaus River, Bonsack noted.

One project in particular uses animals, so the students are able to use those on the property such as horses, which 7-year-old Melissa Dickson of Oakdale said she plans to utilize.

Bonsack said each project helps to “enhance creativity” and teach the students the five elements of design including shape/form, line, texture, color and value.

Sophie Jones, 11, of Knights Ferry said she enjoys “shading and drawing.”

Eventually, Bonsack said she would like to make it an overnight camp where the students stay the night in a loft inside the gallery with counselors. It will take a while to get there though, Bonsack acknowledged.

Ultimately, the goal of the camp is to help students gain self-esteem through self-expression.

“I want the kids to know that if it’s important to them, it’s important enough to making a painting of,” Bonsack said.