“That’s pretty rewarding for me, because I have been to classes where you feel like they’re just there to put their time in,” she said. “And I didn’t have that feeling, but I think it’s because they have a very good teacher, and she makes them get excited about what they’re doing.”
Over the last week, Thurlow has met with students in Mara Hornig’s advanced art classes and worked with them on projects as an artist-in-residence.
“I really enjoyed the experience, and I was quite honored that I was asked to do this,” Thurlow said.
Thurlow, who lives in Cedar Bluffs, has had experience in art for the last 50 years. Although she’s worked with instructors over the years to learn more techniques, she’s mostly self-taught and has had no formal training.
“I pretty much paint or do something with art every day,” she said. “I have a studio set up in my basement, and so I can go anytime and work on whatever I want. So I guess you could say that’s my passion.”
Having been an artist for so many years, Thurlow said she’s experimented with various styles, but started off drawing people and portraits.
“I think that was probably because my mother was somewhat of an artist and that’s what she liked to do,” she said. “She never did really paint but she did a lot of drawing, and it was always of faces, so it was just a natural thing for me to want to do that.”
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Thurlow soon branched out and now does anywhere from a realistic watercolor to abstract paintings.
“Right now, I do like abstract a lot, but I also always want to put a little realism in the abstract,” she said. “It might be abstract, but if you look, you’ll see something that you can identify.”
Hornig said although she hadn’t had an artist in residence for her classes before, she decided on the opportunity after meeting with Thurlow at the Fremont Area Art Association this summer.
“I saw that she did a mixed media piece and thought the kids would be very interested in doing something like that and asked her if she would be willing to come talk to my kids and show them what she does as an established artist,” she said.
After inviting Thurlow to the school, Hornig had her meet with students in her Art 3 and Art 4 classes starting last week.
“She comes in and does a demonstration or shows how much further she progressed on her piece,” Hornig said. “She’s been showing the students pretty much step-by-step how she approaches things.”
Thurlow said during the first visit she went over the concept of using molding plaster on art and how to do so.
“Their assignment pretty much was to find a poem, find a thing, find a picture, which would be adhered into the artwork,” she said. “And then the molding plaster would be put on to enhance whatever the subject was that they put onto the canvas.”
On Wednesday, the students worked on having their piece adhered to the surface of the molding plaster. As the pieces must take time to dry, the students will apply paint and finish the projects on Friday.
Throughout the course of her teachings, Thurlow also showed students a piece of her own that she had utilized the same techniques on.
“I demonstrated what I do, and kids that age have no fear and they have their own ideas, which is great,” she said. “And they seemed to just take to it like a duck to water.”
Hornig said her students have enjoyed seeing Thurlow’s perspective and seeing an artist’s perspective first-hand.
“They go through the thinking that they go through to start a piece or even work through a piece,” Hornig said. “It’s very different for everyone, and I had students comment on how they enjoyed seeing how she layered things and discussed why she chose certain colors or certain images and things like that.”
Ultimately, Hornig said she wants her students to get inspiration from Thurlow’s visit as they move on in their passion for art.
“Even when they graduate from high school, kids can realize there are resources in the community where they can go, like the Fremont Area Art Association, and participate in art classes and learn something new and interesting,” Hornig said.
Especially in the world today, Thurlow said she believes younger people need to use avenues like art and music as an outlet.
“I know just even for myself, if I’m doing art, my well-being is so much better, and I think that’s true of everybody,” she said. “I think everybody needs to experience a little art.”