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Creativity Flows At El Portal
Working intently, measuring each stroke, young artists put paint to canvas.

Except in many cases, the canvas was anything but the traditional one used by artists.

Instead, students expressed themselves by painting on rocks, tables and cabinets.

Students in Jewell Kelley's advanced art class at El Portal Middle School are learning their craft and doing some community service, all at the same time.

"It's an advanced art class, seventh and eighth grade students and I have 26 of them in here," said Kelley.

One group of students on this particular day was painting cabinets in the art room, imitating work of the masters like Van Gogh and Picasso. Others bent over a table - which when completed will be delivered back to the local D'Boni's Pizza - doing artwork of their own.

In another part of the room, eighth grader Nash Kelley was busy forming a previously discarded piece of Styrofoam into a helmet and a quartet nearby was poring over a book about lizards, finding ones they liked and painting them on small rocks.

"It is an elective course," teacher Kelley said, noting that students in the advanced class have already taken basic art and have to have shown a special affinity for the work.

Sometimes, Kelley suggests the student attend the class, sometimes it is the student that applies for placement.

"If I saw they were creative or talented in some way," Kelley said of recommending them for the class.

If she hasn't been their teacher before, she has students show her some of their work before accepting them into the class.

This year's cabinet project is a continuation of one from last year, when Kelley wanted to 'freshen up' the dilapidated supply cabinets in her room on the El Portal campus.

Students have to choose a piece done by a famous artist for their cabinet spot.

"They do a graph first, to get it as close to the original as possible," Kelley said.

They also learn about the painting, delving into art history, and learn about many styles of art, from impressionism to abstract.