For the past 20 years Cindy Claybar has been teaching the summer art program in many schools and churches to area children in Orange County while sharing her love of art.

“Among life’s greatest joys and rewards is the pleasure and gratification that accompanies the success of summer art programs, “ Claybar said.  “You have children and parents who love and appreciate art as much as you love and appreciate art which generates a dynamic and successful program.”

The first summer art programs for the children in Orange County began in 1993 at the Thomen Community Center. It was organized while Claybar was working as the junior high school art teacher in Orangefield. The Orangefield students were the first to participate.

One student Claybar fondly remembers is John David Roberts who was an outstanding artist in the class. As an adult, he became  a businessman in Beaumont.  However,  he is still an accomplished artist and often participates in Orange County’s annual Art in the Park.

Claybar’s  mother, Virginia Pevoto Sandefer, told her on many occasions she was born at the Thomen Community Center when it was a hospital many years ago. Claybar could not help but wonder if the Arts and Gardens Room where she taught was once a maternity ward and perhaps the very room where she was born.

In 1996 , Joe Chenella, Bridge City ISD assistant superintendent, and Larry Buchman,  Bridge City Intermediate School principal were instrumental in the conception of the summer art program at BCI. This program was offered in conjunction with the computer technology camp pioneered by the computer teacher, Steve Russell. Both programs became an immediate success.

Hundreds of children in second through sixth grades from Bridge City and the surrounding areas had opportunities to find means of self expression and the opportunity to learn about, understand, and enjoy creating and excelling in both art and technology.

Madison Davis, who is currently studying law, was one of the first students to sign up for the art classes. During  a recent visit  with her mother, Kim, she recalled beautiful stepping stones her daughter had painted. The stones are still in pristine condition in her flower garden.

“I fondly remember all Lon Hubbard’s daughters being outstanding artist and how much the family loved and supported the summer art program,” Claybar said.

These programs flourished for many years, Claybar said.

“There is no bond more common among children than the link of seeking knowledge when both the children and teacher are motivated and excited about the subject being taught,” Claybar said. ”In summer art programs the growth is not restricted and when expectations are high and both children and teacher are inspired good things will happen in class,” she added.

Art programs were also held during the summer at Little Cypress Junior High for over eight years and many award winning students emerged from LCMCISD.

Kayne Williams, who captured numerous outstanding honors, including the State Environmental Composition of 2011, started lessons when he was six years old. Another young artist and graduate of LC-M,Cody Cormier, took summer art as a child through the Bridge City Program and Little Cypress Program.

The LCJH cafeteria was given a new face-lift by two dynamic students, Sydney Smith and Courtney Price, from the summer art program who volunteered most of their summer to paint a mural of Yellowstone National Park for the teachers and students to enjoy.

Saint Francis Catholic Church has also had a summer art program for the past 15 years. Holly Thompson, who’s mural adorns the children’s garden at Shangri La Botanical Gardens, was a student of the program for many years.  She was also the teacher’s aide for Claybar at Saint Francis.

To successfully teach children’s summer art program’s for twenty years and to capture the meaning and significance of their art products requires considerable understanding and appreciation of young children and the student’s friendly feeling for art, Claybar said.

“As a teacher, most of us seem reasonably secure in understanding of children, but we are a lot less confident about our knowledge of art and our ability to use our art experience as one of the principal basis for learning,” Claybar said. “I have always believed with limited knowledge or experience in art, all children can learn.”

Art does not have to be a “God given talent,” she added.

With the lessons, and experience, all children or adults can be taught to become successful artist.  Artist can learn, develop and grow and is an important part of every person’s life while extending an opportunity for students to learn about themselves and others, according to Claybar.

“Art Education captures a small part of a child’s life, and like all education, in that brief period, art too has a part in laying the groundwork for all the productive years that lie ahead,” Claybar said. “Art is a timeless and universal language and when you learn art skills, you will never forget them. Art is a lifetime investment.”

Over the many years she has been in Art Education, and watched children learn to express their ideas openly in visual art. They were always extremely excited to share in their success or sense of fulfillment.

“I often lie in bed at night and think about how many students have passed through my art classes.  I try hard to remember their names, faces and accomplishments. Most important, deep down I feel an added satisfaction of having contributed meaningfully to their individual development and growth in visual art and I hope they will remember the most that there has never been a day that I have awakened and wished I had chosen another profession,” Claybar said.

She also hopes they will remember the most important thing she taught them which is to “Love their creation.”

“Even though the time I spent with each student was short, I hope the children will continue to develop a genuine love and ever growing appreciation for the beauty in this world we call visual art,” Claybar said.

Above: Cindy Claybar is pictured with her 11-year-old grandson, Carter Claybar, who shares the love of art with her.