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ECU professor illustrates art profession for children

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Scott Eagle begins to sketch on a large sheet of paper as Wahl-Coates Elementary school students surround him in the media center, Wednesday, Oct. 18, 2017.


By Beth Velliquette
The Daily Reflector

Friday, October 20, 2017

First and second-graders at Wahl-Coats Elementary School of the Arts learned how art can illustrate an idea Wednesday when East Carolina University professor Scott Eagles talked to them about some of his “creepy” pictures.

Eagle, an associate professor of painting and design, whose illustrations appear on the covers of magazines and books, brought some of his art to the school to show the students the difference between photographs, paintings and illustrations.

“How many times have you seen a human walking around without their skin on?” Eagle asked.

A chorus of “ewwws” filled the media room as one boy called out, “If I saw one, I would run away and hide.”

Using photographs, drawings, paintings and illustrations of giraffes, he talked about how an illustrator might draw a giraffe without its skin on to show its muscles or its skeleton so people could see the inside of a giraffe and how it moves.

As Eagle tried to explain his job as an illustrator, the kids still wanted to talk about giraffes. They called out where they had seen giraffes: “at the zoo,” “in a book, “on TV!”

After listening to the children talk about giraffes, Eagle continued talking about working as an illustrator. A magazine or book company might call him up and say they need an illustration and it’s his job to create something to show the meaning of the story, he said.

One magazine had a story about a man and son who did not communicate, and then the son shot the father, Eagle said. Afterwards, the son and father learned to communicate, he said.

The illustration he created for the cover of the magazine showed two men talking to each other, but inside their mouths were tiny men pointing guns at each other.

“They’re not really men,” he said. “They’re drawings. They didn’t know how to talk so they were shooting at each other, and that’s not really good.”

Eagle asked the children what they wanted to do when they grew up. They called out professions including a nurse, a football player, an artist, a makeup artist, a photographer, a doctor and a teacher.

Eagle showed the children pictures of himself when he was five and wearing a Superman costume for Halloween. He was standing next to Bozo the Clown. 

“When I was five, I thought I’ll be an artist, but I didn’t know what it would be like,” he said. 

He showed them an illustration of a man with a red fish tied to the top of its head. 

He also showed them photographs of when he was 30, 40 and 50.

“Does anybody know who Bob Ross is?” he asked the students. None of them did, but the adults in the room chuckled.

“I look like a really crazy Bob Ross,” he said about one of the photographs.

Principal Marty Baker said Wahl-Coats Elementary School for the Arts is an open-enrollment school that emphasizes the arts and incorporates it into everyday learning. For students with a particular talent for the arts, the school helps develops their talent, but it also helps students who may learn better using different methods. 

“We try to engage students with active learning in a way they learn best,” Baker said.

For example, some students were having a difficult time learning multiplication, so the music teacher developed a musical way of learning about it.

“She went in there and taught a 20-minute lesson, so all of the sudden the kids knew it,” he said. “When they took the test, you could see them in there tapping their feet, but they knew it.”

The school tries to make learning fun, he said.

This year the school hired a theater teacher, Dylan Ritch, Baker said.

Why would an elementary school need a theater teacher?

Because students learn to read, write and research when they’re creating or reviewing a play, Baker said.

“We have second-graders writing play scripts,” he said.

“If we get rid of the arts then we’re going to take a great step backwards in education,” he said. “If you take away the arts, you’re taking away the learning.”

Contact Beth Velliquette at bvelliquette@reflector.com or at 252-329-9566.