Each year art teacher Ginny Patrick introduces her students at Herman L. Horn Elementary to the variety of careers an artist could have. She invites artists to her classroom to show the students what his or her career is and involves.
“My first artist last year was Jim Privitera from Earthworks Pottery in Vinton and he demonstrated many clay techniques with the students,” said Patrick. “We learned what his job entailed and what he does in our community. This year, I invited Shellie Bruner.
“Shellie has her own business selling painted objects via her Facebook page,” Patrick noted. “I want to show the students of HLH how we support our own community by showing them our local artists here in Vinton.”
Bruner became the HLH Resident Artist of the year and volunteered to paint a mural of the Great Barrier Reef, one of the seven natural wonders of the world and the world’s largest coral reef, on the glass window of the art room at HLH to tie in the theme the class was currently studying.
“We are studying about Australia and the wildlife that lives there,” Patrick shared. “In my art classes at HLH, all grade levels are participating and creating something from Australia. My kindergarten students are using oil pastels and watercolors to create their very own platypus; first graders are mixing white and black paint to create the color grey and they are drawing and painting Koala bears; second graders are creating paper fish that look like fish from the Great Barrier Reef; third graders are using acrylic paint and painting river rocks in the style of Aboriginal art; fourth graders are using a cool color theme to paint the Australian Cockatoo; fifth graders are using a warm color theme and creating an Australian animal collage which includes kangaroos.
“During my lessons, I have incorporated reading to my students to go along with my theme, and one of the books I have read them is ‘One Tiny Turtle’ by Nicola Davies,” added Patrick. “Once the students saw the mural in our classroom some of the students made a connection and said, ‘Ms. Patrick, that painting is just like the Loggerhead turtle that we saw in the book you read to our class.’ I was thrilled to know that not only were they excited about the mural, but they remembered what the story was about!”
She says that tying in literature with her art lessons is a “must have” for her classroom as she loves books and enjoys reading aloud to the students.
“After the students finish their artwork in class (some finish earlier than others) the students get a choice of activities to do while waiting for the rest of the class to finish,” Patrick said. “Many of my students will sit on the rug and read books about our theme, and not only get excited about learning, but also get in some fun reading time as well.”
Artist Shellie Bruner attended elementary school in Vinton at what is now W.E. Cundiff Elementary, graduated from William Byrd High School, and then earned her Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from Radford University. She is now a “self-employed artist and stay at home mom.”
“I worked in retail management for a long time, but when I got a late start on my family, I chose to stay at home,” said Bruner. “Staying home gave me the opportunity to start painting from a small home studio. At this time, my work would be most closely related to the crafting world. I took my fine arts background and applied it to useable objects (glasses, ornaments, jars, etc.), which I sell locally and through the Internet on a very small scale.
“I have been trained primarily in two-dimensional work, with an emphasis on digital study and portraiture,” continued Bruner. “Although I can work in any medium that can make a mark (pencil, ink, charcoal, pastel, water color, oil, acrylic) and on most surfaces that can hold a mark (paper, canvas, wood, glass, ceramic, clay) my special focus has been glass objects, which acrylic paint is most well suited to.”
She says, “It started as a family affair. I painted ornaments for Christmas from year to year. The keepsake quality appealed to me. I loved the idea that every year, as the piece was pulled from storage, they got to rediscover it. It also began a fascination with the fragility of the medium, something I felt was reflected by the subject matter (my ornaments often incorporated special memories). After word got around, I began to get inquiries from other locals. I branched out into other useable objects like glasses and jars, because I wanted something that would be appealing year-round.”
Bruner says her business dealings are “still modest enough to fall in with the crafting crowd, so my online presence is small but moderately effective. I have an art blog, ‘Designs by Shellie Bruner,’ on Facebook, where I share my work and can be contacted. I also have an Etsy shop, SB Original Creations.”
Bruner says that, like Patrick, she loves books, with a small library that includes everything from children’s books to reference, supernatural horror to comics and graphic novels with a favorite being high fantasy.
Music is another interest— not so much a hobby, as a passion. She listens to everything from classical to heavy metal with a special fondness for funk. She says that only country music is out of bounds— with a few exceptions: “You would have to be dead inside not to respond to Dolly Parton’s ‘Jolene’ or Patsy Cline’s ‘Crazy.’”
A third hobby is baking— she says cookies are her strength.
Bruner’s artwork can be found on Facebook at Designs by Shellie Bruner.