Christmas arrived 27 days early as 28 Orono High School students transformed downtown Orono into a winter wonderland on Thursday, Nov. 29.
The students painted holiday and winter scenes on business windows along Main Street, Mill Street, and adjacent streets in preparation for the Downtown Winter Festival, which took place Sunday, Dec. 2. “It is a very popular event,” said Jessica Barnes, the visual arts teacher at OHS and the project’s coordinator. “The businesses were very happy to have us come down and decorate their windows.”
On a window at Harvest Moon on Main Street, OHS seniors Brianna Stoddard and Anna Weigang painted happy penguins. Next door at Ampersand, Chloe Douglass and Joey Manning jointly painted a snow-covered winter wonderland — replete with fir trees, a crescent moon, and stars — across two adja-cent windows. Jillian Woodward painted a large wreath on a third window.
Using high-quality tempera paints and artist brushes, students also painted scenes in windows at:
• Breakfast Bakery;
• Curtis Law Firm;
• Park’s Hardware;
• Pat’s Pizza;
• Rose Bike;
• SBK Consulting;
The window-painting reflects a local commitment to the arts, according to Mary Bird, president of the Orono Schools Coalition for the Arts. “Our community understands that the arts are essential to our lives as humans.” she said.
“Orono High School has a strong emphasis on arts and humanities,” Bird said. “Students may choose from multiple courses in art, music, drama, film, and literature, and they participate in numerous co-curricular activities, as well.
“Last year, more than one-third of the student population participated in the arts at OHS,” she said.
According to Barnes, students applied “design skills and painting techniques they have learned in their classes in AP Art, Commercial Art, and Fundamentals of Art II.”
The “students worked very heavily in composition and design at the beginning of the school year, and this is evident in the work they produced on the windows,” she said. “Many of the students created scenes and thought carefully about object placement and color choices when setting up their designs.”
Because they worked indoors on scenes that face outdoors, the student artists “had to think backwards” while designing their scenes, Barnes pointed out. Additional details required close attention, too.
“When painting a window, you work [the] details first and then do the broad stuff,” Barnes explained. “For example, when you are painting a snowman, you have to paint on the eyes, nose, mouth, and buttons first. Then once that dries, you apply the large areas of white for the body.
“This made the students break down their images by detail level and forced them to really plan out how they were going to approach the window painting,” Barnes said.
“The art will be displayed for a few weeks,” she said. “It is up to the businesses [to determine] how long they would like to keep up the paintings.”
The Orono Village Association partially funded the window-painting project, and organizers plan to paint business windows again in 2013. “This year we could only accommodate 10 businesses due to the amount of students we had participating, but I know there were more that would have liked us to come to decorate their windows,” Barnes said.
“We hope to expand next year and involve even more classes in order to make sure all businesses can participate,” she said.