Mary Jane Porter
Mary Jane Porter
is waging a war against lollipop trees and trees drawn like puffy clouds on sticks.
goes into classrooms, the artist and art teacher encourages children to color big, realistic trees using their hands as measuring devices.
She shows them how their own fingers are wider at the bottom than the top and how their arms are bigger closer to their body and narrower toward their wrists, just like a tree's trunk is wider at the bottom and narrower as it reaches skyward.
encourages them to put three fingers together to determine the width of the trunk, then teaches them to make two large branches.
They keep making branches until they reach either the side or top of the paper.
invites them to look out the window at how long, skinny branches overlap.
"Some kids are afraid to let things overlap," Porter
"And they're afraid to let their drawings cover the whole page.
They have a fear of drawing big."
And at the end of the branches are little twigs that stick out at various angles like fishing poles but never parallel like railroad tracks.
"We make the tree grow as we color it," she
Once the tree has been colored, Porter
helps the children manipulate construction paper by rolling, folding and making it stick out into a three-dimensional collage.
When the construction paper meets the tree, a wonderful tree house is born.
"It teaches architectural forms and three-dimensional concepts in a very easy way," Porter
"And it starts a great conversation.
I'll ask who has a tree house story, who fell out of one, who spent the night in one or who helped build one.
"The children love to tell their stories, and I love to hear them because they're getting even more involved in their art."
Besides teaching elementary-age children, Porter teaches printmaking at Booker T. Washington High School.
And she stays busy teaching courses for educators as a professor at Tulsa Community College and in her own studio, which currently is her dining room table.
specialty is mixed media, which she
describes as combining printmaking, drawing, painting and collage into the same piece.
Puppets are her
Porter discovered them while teaching a class for teachers at Northeastern State University.
always helped the teachers make a puppet they could take back to their classrooms to be used for a curriculum or just enjoyed as art.
"Finally, I realized that puppets were my calling," Porter
says, "and that I wanted to start making them instead of just teaching other people to make them."
Porter's puppets are available at Mama Trizza's, 1448 S. Delaware Ave.
She will teach a puppet making for adults course at the TCC Southeast Campus Feb. 18 and 25.