Arts for the Schools: Where is your egg?

Bethany Lund
Special to the Sun
Bethany Lund's daughter Eva created her egg-art-poem masterpiece in 2011.
Courtesy photo |

TAHOE/TRUCKEE, Calif. — With the 30th anniversary of Arts For the Schools fast approaching (March 2014), it is a great time to reflect on some of the wonderful programs that AFtS has brought to the area over the years.

One such program is the Artist in Residence program. Arts for the Schools contracts with three local professional artists to provide art instruction for third- through fifth-grade students in the Tahoe-Truckee and Incline school districts. These artists work with teachers in each grade level to ensure California visual arts key content standards are fulfilled with each project. Projects have ranged from traditional arts, to egg painting, to poetry and collaborative installations.

Most every fourth-grader during the last 20-plus years in the Tahoe-Truckee Unified School District has had the opportunity to work with Cathee van Rossem St. Clair, learning how to create an amazing painted egg project. Her first program with Arts For the Schools was in 1988, and it has grown from there.

Cathee is now teaching the children of children who painted eggs earlier in the program.

“Every day I am in the classroom is magic.”
Cathee van Rossem St. Clair

It isn’t a simple process. Cathee begins by talking to the students about her drawing experiences, showing them different ways to draw animals and characters. She then teaches cartoon-style drawing, so the children begin to see how they, too, can create characters for their egg.

Cathee takes a variety of eggs for the students to see and hold. Among these are ostrich, hummingbird and duck. This gives the students an opportunity to see the range of sizes for an egg “canvas.”

St. Claire also takes in professionally painted eggs by herself and other artists. The children see how amazing egg painting can be when one takes the time to create these unique pieces of art, while learning about fragility and caring for the world.

Students then bring in their own blown chicken eggs, so they can practice getting the hang of painting on a round object. They see just how hard it is to design and create an impressive work of art on an object that moves and rolls.

As their talents begin to be slightly more refined, they are asked to write a poem that tells the story of the illustration on their final egg.

This poem is intended to have a message for the world. Then the day arrives: Brush strokes are applied to the egg, and when combined with the poem, a masterpiece is finished that tells their story.

Concentration and attention to detail is everything.

When the eggs are completed, they are allowed to dry and are stored in a safe place in the student’s classrooms.

Students from all over the school go to gaze upon these small works of art. It is an impressive program the students remember for years to come.

Hopefully they all still have those wonderful eggs!


Where is your painting, drawing or other piece of art created in an Arts For the Schools program? “Like” Arts For the Schools on Facebook so you can post your egg photo and your poem. It will be truly beautiful to see all of the eggs that have been created over the years thanks to Cathee St. Claire and the other Artists in Residence for Arts for the Schools. What a great tradition that spans generations. It is programs like these that allow us to see what an important role Arts for the Schools and local artists play in the shaping of young artists in our area.


By Eva Lund

I am a worm.

Chicks just hatched and are hungry;

each one is pushing another.

I told my friends to stay away

so they wouldn’t get hurt.

The flowers and grass are cheering me on.

The sun is very bright,

and he’s smiling.

I am trying to think of an idea,

but it’s not worth it.

The clouds look worried,

but I’m not.

I really wish their mother would come

so they would get food from her.

They are getting closer.

I am not worried about me,

I’m worried about them.

My message to the world is:

Don’t be greedy.

Be modest.

I am a worm.

Bethany Lund is a member of the Arts For the Schools board of trustees.

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