The Dali a site for creative eyes

The teenage budding artists get pushed to expand their imaginations in the summer program.

Published July 2, 2006

ST. PETERSBURG - Martina Clarke, 15, picked her favorite thumbnail sketch, then enlarged the image on a piece of white paper.

"It's boy on mouse, mouse on house, house on clouds," Martina said, explaining her design.

The rising sophomore at St. Petersburg High School was creating a pencil drawing using rhyming words to connect her two passions: art and writing. "I write a lot of poetry," she said.

The exercise was part of the Teen Creativity Art Workshop, held this past week at the Salvador Dali Museum, 1000 Third St. S. Led by local artist Rebecca Skelton, the program for ages 13 and older is meant to develop creativity skills through a variety of drawing, painting and design activities.

"The main part is not necessarily to learn how to draw or paint but to learn how to think creatively and experience some of the processes involved in surrealism," said Peter Tush, the museum's curator of education.

This is the first time the teen art workshop has been offered. The museum has held a summer junior docent program for 9- to 13-year-olds for about 20 years. That program has been very successful and Dali officials hope that the teen workshop will follow suit, Tush said.

Throughout the week, the teenagers sketched and painted from still life displays, created designs by combining objects and used word association techniques to transform words into images. For one exercise, Skelton broke the group into small teams to practice brainstorming.

"They're just brilliant, the things they come up with," she said. "They're not resistant to trying new things. They're using ideas from each other to advance their own ideas."

The last day of the program was reserved for creative play. "Creativity comes out of play. When you're playing, there are no rules. Ideas flow," Skelton said.

Robert Williams, who will be a sophomore at the Pinellas County Center for the Arts at Gibbs High School, said he enjoyed trying his hand at surrealist art. "It seems harder to make. It seems like it doesn't have any direction, (but) it makes you look at things differently," he said.

Williams was working on a series of sketches in which he paired seemingly unrelated objects to create an entirely new object. One drawing contained a newspaper printed on a plate "because people like to read while they're eating," he said.

At another table, 13-year-old Raven Medina was putting the finishing touches on her drawing of a "flying pig phone." An incoming call would spur her pig into action, making the phone "oink" instead of ring. Medina was combining incongruous elements, a common practice in surrealist art.

"I think it's a crazy idea and it's cute. It's kind of like the cow jumping over the moon, but it's the pig flying over the hay," she said.