Pencils and paint

Laura Button
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High school students get helping hand from local artist Frank Lapointe

They've come a long way since September. Back then, the common refrain was, "Miss, I can't draw."

The students in Allison North's art class aren't saying that these days. They've had eight months of practise and guidance from the hands of one of Newfoundland's best-known artists.

Port Rexton - They've come a long way since September. Back then, the common refrain was, "Miss, I can't draw."

The students in Allison North's art class aren't saying that these days. They've had eight months of practise and guidance from the hands of one of Newfoundland's best-known artists.

"There's a lot of talent here," says Frank Lapointe. The artist has been lending a hand to the Bishop White class in Port Rexton all year.

"Encouragement is great, but 90 per cent of the hard work has to come from the individuals."

He says, "It's such a private, lonely way to make a living."

Student Haylie Vokey jokes, "You really make me want to be an artist."

Vokey is one of 10 high school students learning the basics of visual design through drawing, painting and printmaking.

The results are obvious in class today. The students are in tune with their pencils and brush strokes as they sweep the expanse of white paper in front of them. This week, they are tackling dimensions and perspective.

Lapointe says there are plenty of applications for these basic skills, ranging from graphic design and animation to visual media and fine arts. Some students already have plans to go on to interior design and welding.

Art and design 2200 is not offered in every school. North says the extra course is thanks to a creative administration at Bishop White.

"I'm a big believer in community schools, and this is a perfect example."

North spent her summer preparing the course. Armed with a budget, she went shopping for supplies.

"Anywhere from Home Hardware in Clarenville who donated linoleum, to Toronto and trying to find the best prices for art materials," she says.

When Lapointe came on board at the request of the school principal, all the pieces came together. The end result is 10 budding young artists.

The students showed off their work at a dessert night last week. About 100 people came out to support the enterprise class and take a peek at what's been going on in the art room all year. North says the response was fantastic.

"Frank and I just sat back like proud parents," she says, as students were complimented on their work. The main corridor at Bishop White has been transformed into a gallery of fine art, but the pieces are not for sale.

North says the students are too attached to their work; a testament to the time spent on every piece of art.

"A lot of the time you see tests left in desks," she says, "but this they want to take home."

The school hopes to offer Art 3200 next year. Most of these students say if that happens, they will be back to try their hands at sculpture and photography.

Geographic location: Port Rexton, Newfoundland, Clarenville Toronto

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