Student paintings displayed at Centre Wellington Community Sportsplex

FERGUS – Many families and athletes walking through the Centre Wellington Community Sportsplex on May 2 paused to ask questions and watch a group of students at work in the atrium. 

Wearing paint-splattered aprons and looks of concentration, five Centre Wellington District High School (CWDHS) students quickly created quality paintings set on a circle of easels. 

The students – Madison Muir, Kate Adema, Ava Noorlander, Devarshi Patel and Anna Main – are members of the school’s Battle of the Brushes club. 

Members get together once per week to practice speed painting, racing against a 20-minute timer to create each work of art. 

Muir told the Advertiser she first tried speed painting in art class, and really enjoyed it, so she decided to join the club.

Now, she said whenever she paints with the Battle of the Brushes club, the rest of her day is better for it.  

“I leave happier,” Muir said, adding it’s a chance to “let loose and see what comes out,” and she enjoys seeing what her peers create. 

CWDHS art teacher Bobbi Bentham Reynolds said joining the club is good for students’ mental health, as it gives them an opportunity to “let go, and focus on one thing.” 

It also helps improve their problem solving abilities, added teacher Jen Main, as they come up with a strategy to create their vision within the 20-minute time frame. 

The club has about 10 members and is open to all grades, though most of the students are in Grades 9 and 12. 

Main said she is particularly proud of the Grade 9 students for “putting themselves out there” by joining the club.  

The club is inspired by an organization called Art Battle International, which hosts live art competitions in the United States, New Zealand, Australia, Thailand, Canada and throughout Europe. 

Here in Fergus, CWDHS will be hosting a similar competition for artists from across the Upper Grand District School Board on May 8. 

The “Live Art Battle” will take place from 6 to 8:30pm, with student competitors from CWDHS, John F. Ross Collegiate Vocational Institute, College Heights Secondary School, and possibly other area high schools.  

Main said the students are encouraged to use “non-traditional” tools while painting, including sponges, rags, oversized brushes, their hands, and pieces of cardboard.

At least 200 art pieces from over 170 students will be available for silent auction at the May 8 event. Proceeds will be split between the winner and the Centre Wellington Food Bank. 

Bentham Reynolds and Main said they hope the art battle becomes an annual event at the school. 

The event at the sportsplex demonstrated what the battle will be like, and it also launched the student Art Show, which will be display in the sportsplex boardroom until late June.

“It’s a great opportunity for the group to practice before doing it in front of friends and family” during the Live Art Battle, Bentham Reynolds said.  

The show includes 24 pieces, all by CWDHS students, and is part of the Elora Fergus Arts Council’sArt in Public Places.”