Archive for September, 2006

Sarah Harding Colored Pencil

Sarah drew these pictures with colored pencil in 2002. Although one commonly thinks of paint when talking about mixing color, a good colored pencil drawing requires mixing as well. This is done by building up different colors over each other to give the desired hue. Sarah’s use of this technique gives her drawings vibrant color and depth.

Graphite butterfly

Inspired by a technique he saw in an art show, Timothy drew this picture as an experiment using powdered graphite. By sprinkling powdered graphite on the paper and using a brush, he was able to make the wispy background for the butterfly. Using just pencil, it would have been significantly harder and longer to shade in that much area and get the same smooth look.

Nitro – Short Story by Sarah Harding

Another form of art that can sometimes be overlooked is the art of words. We all enjoy a good story, and a well written one takes just as much skill as a hand painted portrait. Sarah Harding, who has long enjoyed reading and writing stories, wrote this short story relating her experience riding her first roller coaster at Six Flags.


I was sixteen and had never been to an amusement park before. At least not a real amusement park. Roller coasters were up there on my list of “thrills I had yet to experience.” At twelve it was jumping my bike over a dirt hill and hanging in the air for a few seconds. At fourteen it was galloping a horse in an open field. Now, at sixteen, I had to experience a real roller coaster. You know, the ones everyone screams hysterically on, half-laughing, half-crying, and half-throwing up.

My godfather was taking our junior high/high school class to Six Flags that August—the highlight of the summer. Early driving in an air conditioned, undulating maxi van put most of us in a stupor. But when we swung into the empty parking lot at eight thirty, conversation returned to the roller coaster still blanketed in the morning mist. It was called “The Nitro,” I was informed as I peered out our tinted van windows at the metal tower across the wall. That was the thrill ride we would go to first. Known (at the time) as the tallest roller coaster on the East Coast, it peaked at some 280 feet and reached almost 75 mph.

We loitered restlessly around the black entrance gate until opening time at 9 A.M. Others had joined us by then and we stampeded through the opening gates, adrenaline pumping with anticipation. We raced each other and the new comers to the Nitro queue as some care takers, mops in hand, grimaced as we swept by. Five minutes later we gathered at the bottom of a spiraling metal staircase that climbed to the Nitro platform. Even with all our huffing and puffing we would have to wait fifteen minutes before we reached the top. Approximately twenty people had reached the stairs before us and now ascended, slowly shuffling one foot at a time.

Standing sardine style in a queue doesn’t make for much conversation. At least not for me. One generally concentrates on trying not to breathe down the other person’s neck or avoiding stepping on their heels. I tried to amuse myself by observing the people around me. Mostly young couples. A few loners. A group or two of raucous teenagers. I ended up watching one couple in particular. They were right in front of me. They couldn’t have been more than twenty. They seemed foreign. Indian?, Middle Eastern? Nah, something in between. I couldn’t place my finger on it. I was distracted from trying to place their nationality when they started talking. Not loud enough so that I could overhear but enough for me to understand that something wasn’t settled between them. The guy turned around, looking right, then left down the spiraling staircase. He returned to his forward position and continued slowly shuffling up the staircase but not without frequently shifting uneasily. We reached the top. The group of us that had ascended the stairs waited another five minutes or so as the cars loaded the group that was ahead of us. The foreign guy continued looking about himself, at the platform, at the passengers and back at the platform. His girlfriend talked to him enthusiastically, persistently. The last group of cars pulled up, ready to be loaded and launched. Just then, the foreign guy broke from the line, his girlfriend trailing after him. He sat on a nearby railing and put his head in his hands. Was he…? No… It couldn’t be that he was …was he afraid? I forgot about being the surreptitious observer and stared agog. Yes, he was. His girlfriend was now patting him on the back trying to convince him (and I could barely make out) “that it wouldn’t be all that bad.” He shook his head. He looked around the railing to the ground below and then returned his head to his cupped hands. I was confused at first. He didn’t look the English pansy type. How could this guy be afraid of a roller coaster? Then I was amused by the irony of the picture: the little girlfriend trying to convince her partner to hop a ride. The couple returned to the line but were now edging back down the staircase with many a mumbled, “Excuse me. Pardon me.” I drew myself up taller. Well, I guess there are those types who are scared by such things as roller coasters. I suppose those with weak stomachs and heads. Odd it should affect a guy like that. He must be the sensitive type.

Despite the overblown size of my head at this point I managed to fit into the roller coaster seat with ease. In fact it fit a little too loosely for comfort, the only harness being a metal bar that mechanically locked into place at my waist with a moan and a click. I bounced up and down feeling the freedom of a good six inches between my waist and the bar. This couldn’t be it. I raised my arms feeling the upper sides of my seat. There had to be some sort of harness that would eventually come down to rest in front of the chest. There wasn’t. The cars jerked and pulled forward with a quick rhythmic clicking. The clicking slowed steadily as we climbed the Nitro. The entire amusement park lay before us like a playground. As we ascended higher, trees and lakes surrounded the park reminding me of my elementary days of playing LIFE. We passed signs like, “You are now at the height of the tallest pyramid.” The game board LIFE became an impressionistic smearing of greens and blues. The sky engulfed us. Quietness surrounded us when the clicking stopped because….Oh. We’ve reached the top. My friends in back of me were laughing and talking nervously, swinging their legs vigorously to shake off any numbness that might have entered in the last few seconds. The cars in front of me peaked over the top and started dropping. The screams below me were swallowed in the updraft as I slammed into a wall.

At first I couldn’t figure out where the wall came from. I only knew that it was extremely unpleasant. When I came to, I identified two walls: one as my psyche. My psyche refused to believe this was what a roller coaster—a really tall, really fast roller coaster—felt like. Wasn’t this supposed to produce screams of euphoria, exhilaration and elation? No, it isn’t,” my physical self confirmed. My psyche quickly did a 180 in its opinion of really tall, really fast roller coasters and the first wall disintegrated. I identified the second wall as a purely physically sensation. Instead of hitting a wall of solid brick I had hit a wall of nothingness. Free falling off a several story building couldn’t have felt any different. Any security I might have felt from the bar at my waist was slim to none due the zero G force suspending me in the air. I had heard people talk about the sensation of feeling zero G’s. I recalled technical conversations about jets and such with my older brother who was going to join the air force. Then it had sounded attractive. It wasn’t. Instead of experiencing the much-anticipated euphoria I simply drooped. My feet turned to anchors as my blood coalesced into my bottom two appendages. What little was left traveling through my veins soon curdled at the sound of my friend screaming behind me. I couldn’t scream if I wanted to. I couldn’t even whisper. Images of a deflated balloon that had been stabbed by a pin came to mind. Or a rocking chair propped doll limply grinning at its surroundings. My eyes had been shut up to this point. I had first wanted to concentrate on breathing. Now, maybe I could look…I peeled open my watering eyes… a waterfall of sky and trees rushed before me. Quickly snapping them shut, I fell back into vertigo and blackness.

While concentrating on breathing once more I came to terms with my short life. There has to be pleasanter ways to die. A decapitation would be less painful and more psychologically comforting. Who wants to say he died on an insane pleasure streak? At least martyrs and patriots had something to fight for. I had to hold onto something. I reached above my head on either side of the seat grasping onto the metal frame. Yes, this is a terribly ironic way to die. Like a smoker or a drinker’s death I would die from my own addiction to pleasure. Except this was worse than a smoker or drinker’s death. I wasn’t addicted to roller coasters yet—this was my first try! Even more ironic. Never mind. I don’t want to think about ways of dying. I just want to die and get it over with! As I was saying goodbye to this world and preparing for the next, I heard familiar clicking sounds. They were fast and rhythmic. They became louder and slower. I was breathing more easily. The wind had died down. The ride was over.

I tried swallowing and looked around at fellow passengers. They nonchalantly hopped out of their seats as the mechanical bars hissed in retreat. I thought I might try the same but only succeeded in “hopping” as much as a ninety year old man succeeds in nimbly descending the stairs. I touched ground and straightened trying to keep my arms and legs still. The ground looked very inviting. Maybe if I hug it for a few minutes it might share some of its solidity and strength. I decided against this since doing so would only cause others to trip over my form and unwillingly hug the ground.

“Hey, Sarah!” I heard someone call me from our group in the distant blur. “Ha, ha! What did you think of that! Wow, you’re really pale—white as a ghost! First time on a roller coaster, right? Ha, ha! Hey, what did you guys think of that?” We were altogether now and everyone was slapping each other on the back. I twisted my mouth in an attempt to smile and stayed at the back of the group as we descended the stairs.

The Nitro towered behind us with its 280 feet of metal and insane 75 mph drop. So did all my ideas about English pansies, weak stomachs, tender heads and the like. We walked by a bench. The foreign couple sat on it observing the crowd of thrill seekers. I wanted to say to the guy, “I take it all back!” But I didn’t need to. I smiled, reminding myself that I had experienced the age-old maxim—something about pride going before the…

Adam Krell Stained Glass

Here is a collection of stained glass pieces made by Adam Krell. The soldier and fruit are designed to hang from a window with a suction cup. The fox is set in a stand with a light bulb set behind it. Normally, stained glass involves cutting pieces of glass, soldering them together. With the frogs, however, Adam used cement to hold them together and form coasters for tea cups and coffee mugs. The spider is another innovation, made up of a tiny piece of stained glass soldered to a glass stone with copper wire for the legs.

Renee Krell Sculpture Painting

These are two pre-made figurines painted by Renee Krell, who is 11 years old.

Karen Niles

This is a drawing from Karen Niles, a member of our community. She drew this picture with colored pencil in 1984. Although it has been a while since she has drawn, recently she has begun to take an interest in drawing again.

Sketches from Derek Niles

These are a few sketches from Derek Niles who will be 9 years old in October. With the Spiderman and storm trooper pictures he cut them out and taped them together so they could hang from the wall.

Sketches from Patrick Harding

These are a few sketches from Patrick Harding’s Sketch book. He has a minimalist style, meaning that he uses as few lines and shapes as possible to give the impression of what he is trying to draw. This style can provide a very pleasing and refreshing picture. All of these pictures were rendered in pen.