HEIDELBERG, Germany - Give a child a paint brush and you'll get back a painting most every time. Bring a guest artist to a classroom to show students how to paint and enthusiasm will color their creations.

U.S. Army Garrison Baden-Württemberg Arts and Cultural Center Director Ed Codina visited the Heidelberg Middle School sixth grade to lead a class in watercolor techniques Jan. 18.

His visit was part of the Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation's 70th anniversary celebration.

From the start, the children were focused and immediately got to work cleaning their tables and preparing for the class. Luckily for them, Art and Spanish Teacher Dora Olivares had already taught a few classes in watercolor, and the students proudly showed their work to Codina while explaining it to the rest of the class.

Codina showed the students some basic techniques as well as do's and don'ts of the art of watercolor painting.

They learned to lightly sketch their subject in pencil first. Then they were taught techniques for developing opacity, transparency, differences in brilliance and tonal values, gradations … the works.

They saw first-hand the pitfalls of water puddling, paper warping and the importance of focus, concentration, speed and spontaneous creativity.

Then they proceeded to apply what they had just learned to a work of their own.

"To everyone's delight, in less than 45 minutes the class had produced some exciting work," Codina said.
The children were given a chance to judge their work as a team and to select the top three.
"It was amazing how quickly they applied their lessons to reach a fair consensus on the winners and why they made the choices they did," Codina said.

The winners received art supplies as prizes for a job well done from art supplies sent by Family and MWR headquarters Stateside.

At least one child enjoyed the work so much, she ran home to tell her parents.

"Our daughter, Kai Heineman, came home from school yesterday full of excitement that a 'real artist' had visited her art class and talked to them about watercolors," said parents Rachel and Troy Heineman in an email. "Her grandfather, Don Mokelke, is a DODDS art teacher in Iwakuni, Japan, and while she considers him to be the 'best artist in the world,' I believe [Codina] may have gained the number two spot."

"It's the first time Kai has come home with such enthusiasm, and it's a testament to [Codina] and [his] ability to reach the kids through art," the Heinemans wrote.