Drawing on the walls has always been a no-no. Right?
The art students of Buckeye Valley High School are encouraged to draw on the walls and have been doing it for sometime — under a teacher’s supervision, of course.
“It’s a way to leave your mark,” said Elijah Mitchell, a senior in TJ Chaney’s studio 2 and 3 art class.
Chaney said when he started teaching at Buckeye Valley in 2000, he wanted to create some kind of legacy piece for his students. He went to the principal, who happens to be a former art teacher, and asked about painting on the walls.
“It was a no-brainer,” Chaney said. “It was very easy to get him to say yes.”
Chaney said students have to be seniors in the studio 2 and 3 class, a portfolio-building class.
“It’s basically independent study,” he said. “We work out several weeks in advance at the beginning of the year the project they want to do. They have timeframes to hit and they have to finish by March.”
The hallway to Chaney’s classroom is lined with his students’ art. Each piece is interlocked into the pieces around it like a puzzle.
“I wanted it to not just be on the wall but kind of interconnected,” he said. “So I locked them together like a puzzle.”
Each piece is unique, much like its artist. Some of the work is representative of the old masters, while other pieces are modern or even in line with the superhero graphic novels.
“They have six weeks at the end of the year to paint the piece,” Chaney said. “It’s neat watching the painstaking work that goes into it. They put more effort and time in because they know that it’s on the wall forever.”
Chaney said when former students go to a basketball game or visit, they look at their piece. He said sometimes younger brothers and sisters attending Buckeye Valley High School will point out the pieces to their friends.
Chaney said many of his students leave Buckeye Valley to go to art school and become professional artists.
“There are kids that work all over the place as professional artists and it’s pretty neat to look at where they were and where they’ve come to,” Chaney said. “One works at Disney.”
Chaney keeps track of the number and amount of scholarships his students have received. He said since 2004, students have earned a total of $993,000 in scholarship funding.
“This year I’m pretty confident that we’ll reach over the $1 million mark,” he said. “Over the years we’ve figured out what colleges want in a portfolio. We’ve done some research, talked to the colleges and asked what they want to see in a portfolio. We’re teaching right to what the colleges want to see.”
Mitchell said he has been accepted at the University of Dayton and the University of Cincinnati, but hasn’t made up his mind which one he wants to attend.
“I just need to pick one,” he said. “I’m leaning toward Cincinnati.”
Mitchell said he doesn’t have any particular theme in mind for his wall piece. He said he is considering different ideas, but just hasn’t settled on one idea yet.
Chaney told Mitchell that after spring break they start painting.
Tori Warnock, a junior, will have to wait until next year to leave her mark on the walls of Buckeye Valley. She said she walks the halls looking at what others have painted to get some idea of what she might paint.
“I like painting landscapes and portraits,” she said.
Warnock said she still has some time to figure it all out.
Warnock said she wasn’t going to go to school for art.
“I’ve considered art school,” she said. “If anything else it will be a minor.”
D. Anthony Botkin may be reached at 740-413-0902 or on Twitter @dabotkin.