NEWARK – Each Monday afternoon, as the parking lot at Holy Angels School is controlled chaos with scores of cars waiting to ferry students home, there is a bit of calm on the second floor. There, 15 students spend an hour unleashing their creativity through art, taught by Marianne Jerrell, owner of Discover Your Palette.
Jerrell started her business a few years ago, contacting schools in the area, and she struck up a partnership with Holy Angels, which is in its fourth year. The first classes were a bit bigger, but they have settled into a manageable size.
“We get a pretty good crowd,” said Jerrell, who has a background in graphic design. “I like to do at least 10 students. The very first class we had over 20. It was new, and everybody wanted to see what it was about. The numbers have come down. That was a little too much.”
At first, Jerrell had instructors to teach the art. She would attend the classes, however, and found she liked being the teacher. She has worked with a number of schools, including St. John the Beloved in Wilmington. The students know at the beginning of each six-week class the paintings they will be doing. Each painting is done over two weeks. During a recent visit to Holy Angels, they were working on a leaf.
Having youngsters progress from not believing they could do the work to completing a painting is one of the best parts of Jerrell’s work.
“I’ve had several students, they’ll look at the painting and say, ‘I can’t do that. We’re going to do that?’ And then they’ll get to the end of the session or the end of two weeks and they came up with a painting like this, and they’re like, ‘I can’t believe it!’” she said.
It’s also a release for some students, she added.
“It’s therapy. And they get to create. They’re following my instruction, but they’re doing their own thing. And I tell them, I tell every class that I have, that no two painting are going to look alike. We have 15 students in this class, and we’re going to have 15 different paintings.”
Third-grader Gabriella Martin has taken the class before. She said she’s inspired by art.
“You just do what you want to do, and it becomes beautiful,” she said.
Tori Socha is in her second year of classes with Jerrell. One of two seventh-graders in the class, she said she has sketch books “all over the house.”
“I like art. I just like the creation and freedom of how you can do this,” Tori said. “It’s more creative freedom.”
On her leaf, each section had its own colors and patterns. There were swirls, circles and crooked lines. She said she will stick with the class through eighth grade and has thought about how art can be part of her future.
One of her younger colleagues, Sophia Prado, has been taking Jerrell’s class since first grade. She said she has lost count of the number of paintings she has done at Holy Angels.
“My favorite is the first one I actually did, which was the giraffe. We picked a design, we copied the giraffe from her board, and we picked different colors to fill it in with,” Sophia said.
Like Tori, she wanted her leaf to have a bunch of different patterns, “so no box will have the same detail.”
A class in early November was the last of the first six-week session, and a new one was to start a few weeks later. Many of the same students will return, but some new ones may arrive. Jerrell has a message for them.
“Everyone has an artist in them.”