North Texas Daily

Just add water: Creative arts class brings out imagination

Just add water: Creative arts class brings out imagination

February 18
01:02 2016

Matt Payne | Copy Editor

@MattePaper

The sound of skinny plastic paintbrushes rattling in drinking cups and splashing into tiny caps of water echoes through an otherwise silent classroom.

Exactly 20 students are hunched shoulder-to-shoulder over several aisles of tables. Several ears are occupied by earbuds, and heavy sighs are occasionally heard—not sighs of distress, but of unspoken relief and detachment from any distracting thoughts.

But one student sighs in frustration.

“That’s OK! Here—just add water,” the instructor said after rushing to the student’s side and examining her error. “Have your mini panic attack, then let the water flow and work for you. Water is the eraser of the drawing world.”

Zarina Kay teaches students at the informal art class how to let the water work for you when painting. Hannah Ridings | Senior Staff Photographer

Zarina Kay teaches students at the informal art class how to let the water work for you when painting. Hannah Ridings | Senior Staff Photographer

The interest in the Union Informal Arts series has been contagious among UNT students, to the point where arts coordinator Nicole Newland has been forced to turn away several students eager to get an elusive taste of creating art.

Psychology junior Jasmin John is one of many students interested in the recently-organized Union Informal Arts series. She and a friend scurried to the Union to take part in their latest venture into the fine arts, a water coloring class taught on Feb. 17 by local artist Zarina Kay.

“I never get the opportunity to paint outside of programs sponsored by the university or UPC,” John said. “It’s a good opportunity to refresh myself, so to say.”

John attended the previous class featuring “zentangling,” a style of cyclical tracing and, by extension, meditation. She described the course as a rare opportunity to escape the monotony of her daily routine, which is devoid of art.

The informal art class in the union focused on how to paint features with watercolors for their second class. Hannah Ridings | Senior Staff Photographer

The informal art class in the union focused on how to paint features with watercolors for their second class. Hannah Ridings | Senior Staff Photographer

Despite being more than 30 minutes early for the class, John, her friend and several after her were unable to attend.

“Like anything new and different, it’s been a learning experience,” Newland said about overcoming obstacles and the position created for her by director of University Union activities Zane Reif.

Newland collaborates with Reif to come up with new activities for students to participate in.

Residing in Denton for eight years and earning her master’s degree in art history at the College of Visual Arts and Design, Newland immersed herself in the local art scene early on in her move from Austin. She said she aspires to involve the student body in campus life by expanding the several series she organizes. She wants to hire more artists and allow any Denton resident to attend classes.

“There’s been a strange disconnect between student artists and local artists,” Newland said. “And I want to bridge that gap.”

Color paint is placed on watercolor paper at the informal art class held in the union. Hannah Ridings | Senior Staff Photographer

Color paint is placed on watercolor paper at the informal art class held in the union. Hannah Ridings | Senior Staff Photographer

Fortunately, Newland was able to connect with local artist Kay at Oaktopia in September of last year. She said she admired Kay’s art booth of “emotional” work and reconnected with her to proposition teaching classes. Kay’s watercoloring course was the second of several events under the Union Informal Arts series.

Students gathered around Kay as she let water drip over thinly-traced lines, vividly coloring her painting of a human eye.

Coincidentally, Kay is an avid boxer at Tidal Boxing Club and shares Newland’s desires to continue collaborating not only in encouraging fascination of art, but also in spreading the discipline she’s gained from boxing.

Her two specialties—physical and emotional—go hand-in-hand and allow Kay to express what she calls “introverted” activities as an extrovert.

“It’s a weird thing, teaching,” Kay said. “Being specific about an activity and having to dig into your subconscious—it opens our minds. And I love it. I’m always going to teach.”

Featured Image: Color paint is placed on watercolor paper at the informal art class held in the union. Hannah Ridings | Senior Staff Photographer 

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