Bringing up young artists

Published 4:14 pm Monday, May 24, 2010

Abraham Maslow said it best when he described self-actualization, stating “A musician must make music, an artist must paint, a poet must write, if he is to be ultimately at peace with himself. What a man can be, he must be.”

What an inspiration this is if it is really taken to heart.

Young artists at Vincent and Wilsonville Elementary school are certainly showing their full potential through creating an art portfolio.

They work on getting them ready to take home throughout April and May by collecting all their artwork from throughout the year, which Mari Newton, the art instructor for both Vincent and Wilsonville, has saved for them. The students are also busy perfecting any work they choose. The art portfolios are then decorated by the young artists themselves. Newton explained how the students enjoy this project. “They love to see their artwork they haven’t seen in a while. I use this time to evaluate different lessons as I pass out the work and the students use it as a time for self-evaluation,” she said.

Newton gives all her students a chance to decorate the school with their artwork during the school-wide art show, which is held each February before Valentine’s Day. The halls are then all decorated with hearts as well.

“Traveling between the two schools keeps me active and alert,” Mari Newton says as she describes learning the names of nearly 700 children. She has a great routine and keeps each school on the same schedule.

One of her main objectives in art is for children to enjoy learning each lesson, and she believes her students do enjoy each new idea and concept.

“I try to introduce lessons using objects or concepts found in everyday life.  I want for the child to wake up in the morning excited that it is “art day’,” she said.

The students are all very respectful and do as they are asked. Newton takes pride in them for also being appreciative of everything she does.

Newton loves being with the children as much as the students love art class. She described this as the best part about her job. She gets lots of hugs.

This year is her 20th to be teaching art at Vincent, although she also taught at Wilsonville and Chelsea Elementary during her early years. She enjoys her big room and the beautiful art history mural painted on the walls.

“I always felt loved and appreciated from day one,” Newton said.

Kennedy Tolbert is the new community columnist for Wilsonville. She can be reached at