By Bryanna Allen | Correspondent.
Scattered throughout the property of Billings Farm and Museum were students with their heads ducked and hands constantly moving. The only time they looked up was to dip a brush into a patch of runny paint, or to let their eyes scan their surroundings.
Friday was the first time that kids had the chance to incorporate literature and art in their own way through the Bookstock 2015 Literary Festival, an annual event that celebrates the diversity of words.
A group of students of varying ages walked the grounds and trails of the farm with a park ranger, finding Robert Frost poems sprinkled about the property.
“We all read the poem and then talk about what it means to each of us. Then, everyone sits down by themselves and paints or writes what they are feeling,” said Jenny Swab, a park ranger at the facility who led the workshop.
Swab used to be an art teacher before becoming a ranger, so she said she was thrilled at the chance to lead a workshop in which she could combine her passion for art with her career and knowledge of nature.
“Each of these poems is about nature, but also about more than that,” she said, dabbing a bit of blue paint to her own interpretation of the poem “A Minor Bird.”
Kia Amirkiaee said she doesn’t normally consider herself an artist, but found the workshop enjoyable and educational. She learned about different painting materials and techniques.
“I’ve always liked art, but it’s one of those things you never seem to have the time for,” she said, holding up her still-wet painting.
She said one of her favorite poems was one about a bird, because “I think it shows how people see things not as they truly are but how we want to see them.”
Her painting, or her emotional understanding of the poem, displayed a mix of bright colors blending together to create an abstract landscape.
Others painted pictures of birds, while some did a combination of colors and words.
“Each of us sees things differently when we read the poems,” Amirkiaee said.
And understanding poems was not even a requirement for the workshop.
Griffin Kingsbauer, 12, said he found poetry a challenge sometimes.
“I don’t always know what is being said,” he explained. “But I guess that’s the point. The challenge is figuring out what they mean, but that’s also the fun part.”
Kingsbauer said he wanted to join the workshop because he was drawn to the chance to work on his artistic skills.
As the group moved from the edge of the woods to the garden, pulling a red wagon full of art supplies, they chatted about their paintings and thoughts.
“I don’t really read poetry, and I haven’t really been painting anything that has to do directly with the poems, just painting what I want and feel,” Alex Barreto said.
He sat under a tree on a piece of cardboard to keep from getting wet from the morning dew.
And he was right. At first glance, his paintings looked nothing like a scene from any of the poems, but they were instead scenes from his mind when he read the words.
“I am getting a new appreciation for poems, which is nice because mostly I was always just forced to read them in school,” he said. “I’m still not sure where my inspiration for the paintings comes from, but I like the way they’re turning out.”
Sitting on stone steps in the garden, shaded from the sun by his big straw hat, Jack Greene worked on his paintings.
Normally a photographer, Greene said this form of art was new to him, but something he discovered was good at strengthening for his overall artistic personality.
“Reading the poems and then painting what we feel, is like stepping back into time,” he said. “It’s been great.”