Vt. artist shows Maple Street School the joys of painting


MANCHESTER -- Artist Woody Jackson spent two days in residence at the independent Maple Street School last week, painting watercolor landscapes alongside students of all ages.

Jackson, perhaps most famous for creating the cows in the logo of Ben & Jerry's Ice Cream, spent 45 minutes with each of art teacher Leslie Sullivan's nine classes, covering grades K-8. Students learned about Jackson's style, and then attempted to create their own colorful Vermont landscapes.

While the students were diligently working, Jackson created watercolor paintings of his own, which he donated to the school for their fundraising auction, which took place on Saturday. "This is what I do in my studio every day," Jackson said to one of the third grade students at the table with him during his visit on Wednesday, "I play with color."

Later, he addressed the class, "Does anyone think this is work? Or is this fun?" The answer, of course, was a resounding "Fun!" While many of Jackson's landscapes are based on real locations, most of the students said they were working from imagination.

At the end of the class, Jackson gave every student a signed postcard featuring his art. "If you do nice paintings that make people feel good," he told the students as they left, "That's satisfying."

Jackson said he visits school groups about once a year, and has enjoyed his time working with the Maple Street students. "They're great, its been a lot of fun," he said.

Jackson said he first painted the cows that would become his signature because he was fascinated by their colors, especially on the mostly green backdrop of Vermont. "I really like the contrast of black and white, on abstract shapes," he said, "As an artist you are always looking, and Vermont is a great place to look."

"I discovered that I liked art in college, so there's no rush to figure out what you want to do. You've still got time," Jackson told the seventh grade class. As they painted, he continued chatting with the students around him, giving them advice on color and composition. "Just have fun with it," he said, "that's what I do, and its my job."

"When you're painting," said Jackson, "it's just you, the paper, and the pigments. It's like singing, you have to find a tune that works for you."

Derek Carson can be reached for comment at dcarson@benningtonbanner.com. Follow him on Twitter @DerekCarsonBB


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