Muscat: Bait Al Baranda is abuzz these days with children busy working with paints, canvases, paper, felt and even colourful buttons as they learn new art techniques at the museum's annual art camp. Now in its eighth year, the camp has attracted nearly 40 children ranging from 6 to 16 years in age who will spend their mornings in the museum, letting their creativity shine through until August 24, when the programme will conclude with an exhibition
of their work.
"It's great that we're sticking with this kind of programme to inculcate a sense of art in these young minds. They love it!" explained Malik Al Hinai, the museum's director.
This year, the workshops are being taught both by professional artists, including sculptor Essa Al Mafargi, and students from the Fine Arts Education programme at the SQU and the Scientific College of Design.
"It's nice to help them with their curriculum. They receive credits for this and a stipend as well," Al Hinai added.
Zainab Sajwani, a student about to start Grade VII at the Al Sahwa School, was busy working on a painting of the sunrise over the sea. Since she was just a young child, she enjoyed drawing and painting. Now she even does graffiti on a wall on the roof of her home in MSQ, she said.
"I like doing art. When I grow up, I want to be an artist. I want to make sculptures and paintings and then sell them," explained Zainab.
Zainab added that she was happy to learn new skills from the instructors, who were busy teaching some of the children how to create textural paintings, first by drawing a scene on the canvas, and then using a type of white gypsum to make effects like sand, bricks, leaves or tree trunks. The gypsum is then painted with colours.
Muntaha Al Lawati, a grade nine student, was participating in the workshop for the fifth year in a row, this time with her younger brother Maein, who is in grade three, and sister Murooj, who is in grade eight. She said the summer programme helps her improve her art classes at school.
"Each time they bring new ideas and I learn new things. I enjoy it, and I'm doing something useful," she said.
Her mother, Muna, described the workshop as "excellent," since it meant her children were spending their holidays doing something interesting instead of sitting at home, and learning more about art, which is highly important to their family.
"Life is all art, from the beginning," she said.
For the instructors, it was a chance to learn what futures may have in store for them. Khalid Al Rawahi, a Fine Arts student from the SQU, said it was good practice for him, since he plans on becoming an art teacher.
"It's good to work with them. You can teach them new things. But you have to be patient with them, because some can be very naughty," he explained.
Atala Al Wahaibi, a fashion design student from the Scientific College of Design, was teaching the children how buttons can be used for a lot more things than just fastening clothes. Her activities included showing them how to decorate cushions, photo frames, and accessories with buttons.
"We want to show the children how simple things like buttons can be used in many creative ways," she explained.
Local artist Ali Al Hinai, a member of the Omani Society for Fine Arts, said it is fun working with children because they have few inhibitions and feel free to create and explore as they wish. As he got his hands and clothes dirty scooping out gypsum and demonstrating techniques for the kids, he couldn't help but smile.
"The children don't think about what they are doing. They just look at something and draw it the way they see it, so it can be abstract. It's nice, actually. They do it unconsciously," Ali Al Hinai said.
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