Art teacher’s landscape learning in Napa Valley

Published 3:29 pm Wednesday, October 1, 2008

In Napa Valley, Riddle found herself in daily isolation, painting the landscape around her. She was in the California hills just after the major fires in July. The fires changed the color of the skies, she said.

&dquo;It made the sky quite beautiful,&dquo; Riddle said.

Although it was called a workshop, Riddle&squo;s experience in Napa Valley was not a tedious class. It was more about just painting.

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&dquo;I didn&squo;t take a course,&dquo; she said. &dquo;I just went and painted as an artist.&dquo;

She said she returned to Landrum inspired, eager to get her O.P. Earle students painting landscapes. Since then, her students have been inspired, too.

Riddle gets comments every day on the color of Hogback Mountain, among other things.

All her classes are painting landscapes, from kindergarten to fifth grade. Her second graders are going to turn their landscapes into a quilt, which will incorporate different clubs out in the Landrum community.

&dquo;I have created a painting unit that brings the local landscape to life for the students at O.P. Earle,&dquo; Riddle said. &dquo;They&squo;re observing their local landscape, which is what I want them to be as artists – observers.&dquo;

The unit on plein aire painting and workshop is close to Riddle&squo;s heart. She teaches adult students the same type of outside, landscape painting with her All&squo; Aperto Studio.

Her main objective with those students and her students at O.P. Earle is to inspire creativity just by observing their surroundings.

Workshops such as her California experience are vital, she said, to her continued efforts to inspire creativity in her O.P. Earle students.

&dquo;If you&squo;re going to have a great art program,&dquo; she said. &dquo;You need to be a lifelong learner.&dquo;

Riddle won the South Carolina Art Education Association&squo;s Elementary Art Teacher of the Year award in 2006.