WOLF School partnership brings young artists outdoors

The philosophy of the WOLF school is to give our kids as many outdoor experiences as possible, allowing them to discover interests they may truly be passionate about. Through collaboration with our many community partners, students will leave the WOLF program plugged into resources they need to pursue these passions. This particular project combines many of the outdoor interests and experiences we have explored this year, and is a culminating event that incorporates a love of outdoors with a love of art.

En plein air is a French expression that literally means "in the open air”. As an art form, it achieved popularity during the 19th century among French impressionist painters. With the advent of portable paint tubes and box easels, artists were leaving their studios to paint fresh, authentic impressions of landscapes, as they appeared to their own eyes. Today’s plein air artists search out beautiful outdoor venues where they can immerse themselves in the landscape, racing against time and temperature to capture the true color notes and light qualities present only in natural light.  Painting water, trees, and clouds convincingly requires a knowledge of distinctive outdoor light qualities.  

WOLF students know that watching wildlife, photography, and outdoor art can bring just as much satisfaction and enjoyment as hunting and fishing.  hey are excited about this plein air project, and in preparation have been sketching, painting, and color-mixing for weeks. On Tuesday, they will finally head outdoors with their palettes, paper, and patience as they work with volunteers from the Springfield Plein Air painting group to capture the essence of the day.

The object of their art will be the mighty old oak tree which graces the front of the WOLF school and White River Conference Center. It stands close to the corner of Sunshine and Campbell. This is the historic tree that put the "shade” in the Shady Inn – an iconic Springfield restaurant built in 1947, and widely known for its prime rib and lobster. Although the restaurant closed in 2001, the tree remains standing. As precious as the memories of the Shady Inn are to Springfield residents, the tree was likely present for many local, historical events. This only makes its presence more personal and significant. At WOLF, students learn about the many species of native oaks as part of a Missouri forests unit.  

Inspired by the My Studio To Go initiative of the Community Foundation of the Ozarks, which puts transportable art supplies into the hands of 2nd and 6th graders, this project is part the Kennedy Center’s Ensuring the Arts for Any Given Child, offered to Springfield Public Schools through a partnership with the Community Foundation of the Ozarks. The project will also rely significantly on the WOLF school’s partnership with the Springfield Plein Air painting group.

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