Workshops encourage young artists

Published 10:15 pm Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Mold a character, take a picture, move his arm, take another picture. And so on. And so on.

Putting together a clay animation film seems easy enough, right?

It might be a simple concept, but it’s anything but easy.

Email newsletter signup

Last week, I got the opportunity to see students from the city’s three public high schools and Nansemond-Suffolk Academy, who spent the day at King’s Fork High School making their own clay animation film at a workshop, taught by a filmmaker and an art teacher.

The workshop was sponsored by the Suffolk Art League and the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts and is one of four workshops that the groups offer during the year for the art students.

The teenagers worked all day on the project, building characters and sets, animating them, compiling the film and adding sound.

They got a great opportunity to let their imagination run when they were asked to sculpt characters without any boundaries as to what to create.

It was great to see what the students came up with when they were allowed to let their minds run free. A hip-hop cowboy, a pink dinosaur, a set of mask-wearing twins.

After doing their own thing, they had to regroup and come up with a plot and write a script.

But the trickiest part came when they had to animate the characters, spending hours to create a film that’s only a few minutes long.

While the process would be monotonous to some people, the students were excited about it.

One student told me it was his favorite part, and he didn’t mind that it took most of the day, because it was worth the effort.

The teens demonstrated through their patience and commitment to the project that they are artists committed to their work.

It was amazing to see how proud they were watching their figures come to life on the TV screen while laughing at jokes they wrote.

The Suffolk Art League is doing a great thing by providing different opportunities for the city’s art students.

Through these workshops, they might find something they love that they wouldn’t have known about otherwise.

Sure, clay animation isn’t the first thing you think of when you think of fine art, but who doesn’t love “The Nightmare Before Christmas” or “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer?”

Young artists should be encouraged, and these workshops are a great way for a community organization, like the Suffolk Art League, to do just that.