For New Richmond Middle School art teacher Allison Johnson, teaching her students about art and helping them create their own masterpieces is what she loves to do. So it only made sense to create a club in which the students could take more time to paint, draw and create their own original pieces based on what they are learning in school.

“I had a number of students who wanted to see me more and it gives them the opportunity to practice more and work on their art skills,” Johnson said. “I only have the students seven weeks at a time throughout the year, so it made sense to start a club that goes throughout the school year.”

The club’s mission is twofold: 

- To teach a program where students can enjoy learning skills that will help improve their artistic abilities; 

- And to provide a caring and friendly environment where the instructor can encourage and challenge every student to their true individual artistic potential.

“The kids work on anything from drawing to painting to working with clay,” Johnson said. “They have choices as far as what materials they can use. They just have to have a plan for what they are going to do.”

According to Johnson, her students like to create a variety of art pieces including still lifes, portraits, drawings of animals and much more.

“There is a good deal of variety in what the students want to do and what they work on during Art Club,” Johnson said. “That is the fun part for me because I am really able to touch on a lot of different subjects. And the club also allows my students to teach each other, which is something I love to see.”

The club is open to any student at the middle school and students can attend club meetings when they want to or have the time.

“Not requiring students to come to meetings allows the students who have sports throughout the year to take part in those sports and come to meetings when they can or when they are done with their season,” Johnson said.

Throughout the year, Johnson will give random lessons, demonstrations or themes to help give her students direction and teach them new techniques that they can then use on their own projects.

“When I do that, I’ll sit down with the whole club and show them exactly what I do, as far as technique, to help them learn,” Johnson said.

Johnson sees anywhere between 40 and 60 students take part in Art Club throughout the school year. With so many students taking part in the club, the art room at the middle school fills up rather quickly.

“Once these middle schoolers are hooked on something, like art, they can be so passionate and so hard working,” Johnson said. “I really see that in their artwork. It is pretty amazing what they are capable of doing. The skill level for some of my kids is just incredible.”

Once the students finish their pieces, Johnson displays them wherever she can find the space, be it in the school or somewhere else. Work the students create can also be considered for the art show at WITC, which is held during the winter.

Johnson knows that her students have many different motivations for being part of Art Club, but chief among them is their love of art and creating something with their own hands.

“There are some students that just don’t know what they are capable of and they are curious as to what they can do,” Johnson said. “I think the kids really surprise themselves with what they are capable of doing.”