Linda Ramos, who teaches two ongoing art classes at Hutchins Street Square, recently finished a mural at Washington Elementary school with the help of a half-dozen little artists from ages 5 to 13.
Ramos, who lives in Lodi with her two children, also paints and makes furniture out of wine barrels, and she has artistically painted a laundromat. She recently talked with News-Sentinel staff writer Jennifer Bonnett about her work in and around Lodi.
Q: Tell me how you got involved in painting.
A: I've always painted on everything, except canvas. Art was always a very important part of my life. When I was five or six, I loved to draw. I am self-taught. It's extremely rewarding.
After having regular jobs, I woke up one morning and decided this is what I was going to do. I paint buildings now and do the wine barrel thing, in addition to teaching.
Q: What about the idea of painting murals at schools?
A: I was in Hutchins Street Square getting my adult mural class in order last year when I overheard they were canceling a class for children. I told them I could do something, so I put a lesson plan together. Then I thought if the kids were doing murals, they needed a place to do them, so I contacted the superintendent, and she was thrilled. The schools always need artwork.
Q: What's the future look like?
A: I would like to do abstract to get even more kids involved, like by having them all make hand prints. I'm willing to have more kids at each school. I really wish more students would get involved with it. I'd like this to become a revolving program.
I have a very open mind. I'm willing to bring art to the schools. Besides, that's what I like about children. I like them to teach me.
Q: What do you feel you can teach students?
A: In the eight-week classes, I teach them about art history, and encourage them to do their own thing. About half are doing freestyle (on the murals).
I teach them some basic techniques and the importance of art through the years. Before we work on the big mural, we do small projects. For the young kids, I teach the basic colors, and the older ones, how to mix colors.
They do drawing, painting … I even show them photography because that's art. A question I always start my classes with is, 'What is art?' They always say 'Painting,' but it is much more than that.
Q: Art has largely disappeared from the classroom. How does this make you feel?
A: I feel art is extremely important for all children and not only the ones who are showing artistic abilities at a young age. It's unfortunate that the public school system has eliminated the opportunity to create. I meet some kids that don't even know how to use scissors.
It's not always about math or English. Art is a nice addition to a healthy education. It's self-discovery.
Q: What is your favorite color?
A: When I paint, I tend to use bright vivid colors. I don't really enjoy the pastels. I love the deep reds, the blues, the intensity of the colors.
Q: What's the easiest art medium for someone to learn? Why?
A: Drawing. It's something anyone can learn without even looking at what they're doing. That's the gateway art form. Painting, also, is very simple. A 5-year-old can do some amazing things if given a paintbrush. I think that comes natural to all children.
For more information about Ramos' mural classes, contact Hutchins Street Square at 333-5511. The classes last for eight weeks, but enrollment is always open and scholarships are available.