Six kids lined up in the grass at Smith-Collins Park in East Smithfield. When the instructor said go, the kids dashed toward a bucket holding spray bottles filled with water-color paints.
Soon, the kids were leaning over white handkerchiefs lying in the grass, each painting a pattern of his or her choosing. After trading bottles and further painting their handkerchiefs, and in some cases themselves, the children finished their colorful creations.
Last week, the Smithfield Parks and Recreation Department staged a five-day art camp called “Artz Kidz @ Play.” For just $2 a day, the camp ran from 9 a.m. to noon in the park on Lee Street.
About six kids came each day, but up to 20 could have joined in, said organizer Tiffany Pearson, who hopes to see more kids next summer. Each day, the kids made two crafts that they then could take home and keep. Their creations ranged from kites to picture frames to mugs.
“There’s a lot of kids out there that love art that maybe don’t get a chance to do it as much as they like,” Pearson said. “(They) don’t realize there are as many formats of art as there are, so I just wanted an opportunity to expose kids to different forms of art.”
Mackenzie Nascimento, 8, of Clayton wanted to come to the camp to learn new crafts. Her mom works and doesn’t have time during the day to help with her artwork, she said.
Mackenzie likes art. “You can be creative, whatever you want, and it doesn’t matter whenever you make a mistake,” she said.
Meeting new people and playing in the park were pluses too, she said. So was using new materials and learning new craft projects. “There are so many creative ideas that are different from what I do at school,” Mackenzie said.
Joseph Chopski, 11, of Smithfield liked being able to take artwork home and show off what he’d been able to make. “It’s fun because you can do art all day, and you also get time to play,” he said.
AJ Pedley, 10, of Clayton came to camp to learn arts and crafts he isn’t able to make at home or school. “Here, it’s away from school, and it doesn’t feel like a prison,” he said.
Like Mackenzie, AJ liked meeting new people and using new materials. Making artwork just feels good, he added. “It feels renewing,” he said. “It’s just a weight off your shoulders because it’s something you really wanted to do, and you finally get to do it.”