SPRINGFIELD, Ohio —In an effort to allow students “to expand their artistic skills and experience a beautiful, culturally rich setting that would inspire their painting and drawing,” Edward Charney, assistant professor of art at Wittenberg University, led 13 art students on a three-week trip to Ballyvaughan, Ireland to study at the Burren College of Art in June. Charney instructed the students in his self-designed class titled “Drawing and Painting in Ireland.”
While there, the students averaged six to eight hours of daily painting in and outside the studio. Their oil painting or drawing assignments, which could earn a maximum of eight credits upon their successful completion, aimed to depict a variety of landscapes, including seascapes — something that is hard to come by on Wittenberg’s campus. Each student must complete the multiple art assignments by a mid-August deadline to qualify for course credit.
“This trip provided a new experience for the students of painting outdoors, while they were forced to contend with the physical elements of the sudden changes in the weather one can expect on the shores of Ireland,” Charney said.
Kendra Athy, a 2004 Wittenberg graduate from Springfield, Ohio, shared her experiences of painting and traveling through the country and said she was “taken aback by the beauty of Ireland.” When not in the studio, the group visited places such as the Cliffs of Moher, Galway, and Dublin. The students also toured Newtown Castle on the campus of the Burren College of Art. Of all the places they visited, Athy most enjoyed the Cliffs of Moher.
“The cliffs were just so impressive and huge. I’d always seen pictures of them, but I never would have guessed how beautiful they really are,” Athy said.
Most of the students had never been to Ireland, but according to Athy, everyone enjoyed the experience immensely. “Now each student that has visited Ireland will have new ideas and different landscapes and views that they can paint or draw,” Athy said.
Charney said planning for this trip began in 2001, but the limited number of painting students prevented the trip. Since then, Charney worked to cultivate more painting majors and said he is happy with the growth of the program throughout the last few years. He hopes to return to Ireland in two years with another group of art students.
“There is no better way for the students to learn than to shock them out of their normal routines and allow for a cultural immersion in another country,” Charney explained.
If she ever returns to Ireland, Athy would choose to go back to Ballyvaughan. “The town was small and quaint, and only about 500 people live there,” Athy said. “I would encourage everyone, if given the opportunity, to study in Ireland or go abroad so that they can experience and learn from a different culture.”
A cross-section of the class’ artwork will be on display in the Ann Miller Art Gallery, located inside Koch Hall, when classes resume in August. Charney also plans to put together a traveling display of the students’ artwork.
For more information about the Wittenberg University art department call (937) 327-6311 or visit their Web site. To learn more about future study-abroad programs for painting majors contact Charney at (937) 327-6326 or firstname.lastname@example.org.