WIESBADEN, Germany - Some parents raise their children by the "do as I say, not as I do" rule. Not so for Laura Irick. She guided her daughter toward art school with a "do as I do" philosophy. In the process she rediscovered her own love of art and won photography contests with her work.

"I always liked art," said Irick. "I wanted to go to art school but joined the military and I never got back to art."

That is until her teenage daughter, Sarah, enrolled in an advanced placement art course that required her to create a portfolio. "I had to motivate her," said Irick. "So, I thought if I started doing a project then she would see me working and it would get her motivated."

A part of the portfolio assignment involved painting a landscape. "We were at the site and it started to rain," said Irick. "I took a picture of the site so she could finish the painting at home." To get her daughter to finish the landscape painting Irick began painting a landscape of her own. "I knew I couldn't out-do her, but if she saw me painting I hoped she would paint too."

That dovetailed nicely with another project Irick was working on - to record her time in Germany with photographs and then later create art from the photos. "My plan was to change them and do an artistic rendering of my favorite pictures." Irick took the finished pieces to the Arts and Crafts Center at Wiesbaden Army Airfield to be framed.

Noting the caliber of work being done by Irick and her daughter, Sherry Ward, Arts and Crafts Center director, urged them to enter the 2008 Army Digital Photo Contest. Out of more than 3,000 entries Irick ended up winning in two separate categories: first place in the Military Life category with a photo entitled "60th Anniversary Berlin Airlift Celebration" and second place in the Experimental category with her "Passageway" photograph. "I entered it (the contest) to encourage my daughter."

Of the Berlin Airlift photograph Irick said it was a fluke. I took lots of photos that day - of Berlin candy bomber Gail Halversen, Sarah & Elias (her son), and their friends...as we were leaving, I realized how ironic it was that I'd spent the whole day there celebrating shared-German- American-blessings through aircraft and hadn't taken a single shot of an airplane," said Irick. "My dad was in the Air Force and I thought I would take a picture of a plane for him. I looked around and found the plane with the biggest line (of people) and I took a picture."

Another fluke about winning was that Irick is not a professional photographer and she took the photo with a Sure Shot 620A camera. The little camera had been purchased a few years ago with an Army and Air Force Exchange Service gift certificate the Iricks had won in a fitness challenge.
"Passageway" is a photo of a straight "hallway" of steel bars toward a brick building.

Thanks to Irick's method of leading by example her daughter completed the portfolio for school and received good marks. "I put a lot of (artistic mediums) in the house for her to see," said Irick. "When she had time off, if she saw me working on it then she would also try it."

The funny thing is that while teaching her daughter, Irick herself learned a lot. "I was able to do what I always wanted to do," said Irick. "I found that I can learn to do things by reading and studying. It's almost like I got the opportunity to go to art school. I feel kind of young again."

Irick said that her daughter is by far the better artist and photographer of the two of them.

"As mother and daughter living the verse 'Iron sharpens iron,' we consider our art and wonder who sharpened whom," said Irick. "I hope that doing art with my daughter has resulted in channeling her talent, but my greater goal was to have shaped her character in the process."

Irick and her daughter Sarah also took prizes in the 2008 Arts and Crafts Contest conducted earlier this year.

"Winner galleries can be viewed at https://artscrafts.fmwrc.army.mil," said Ward. "For a local person to have not only taken a place, but to have won 1st place I believe is significant."

The Arts and Crafts Center is a part of the greater Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation organization. The purpose of the center is to allow all members of the military community the opportunity to develop their creative skills through a variety of activities. FMWR said participation in Arts and Crafts activities promotes stress reduction, encourages self reliance, expands technical knowledge and cultural awareness and develops technical and problem solving skills.

FMWR Arts and Crafts Centers offer classes in framing, knitting, scrapbooking, music, painting and more. There are also usually plenty of fun, seasonal events planned for individual garrison Arts and Crafts Centers. Usually the cost of the class includes the materials so it is a terrific way to discover a new activity without spending a lot of money on supplies. "It's a great deal," said Ward.

For information about classes and services offered at Arts and Crafts Centers go to www.armymwr.com/portal/recreation/artsandcrafts.

Page last updated Fri March 27th, 2009 at 06:36