23rd January 2009 at 00:00

I drew Ryan. He is my best friend and I tried to draw it in the style of Joan Eardley. Ryan likes cars and I tried to put cars in a nice pattern on his portrait. The equipment we used was oil pastels, letters from magazines and picture from magazines or the computer."

Those are the words of Jake Lamont, 8, describing his portrait of a friend and classmate at Kirkpatrick Fleming Primary in Dumfries and Galloway. Kirkpatrick Fleming was one of four primaries which took part in Gracefield Arts Centre's recent Young@Art project, the results of which are showing at the centre in Dumfries until February 18.

Working in their classrooms, pupils produced portraits inspired by pictures of children in the Gracefield art collection, focusing particularly on those by the late Joan Eardley - famous for paintings of Glasgow street urchins shown against colourful collage backgrounds.

The results from Kirkpatrick Fleming are among the most successful, both in artistic terms and in the written descriptions. The pupils have understood the basic principles of portraiture and, without mimicking Eardley, have produced confident and appealing pictures.

Included in the exhibition are those works from the Gracefield collection that feature children, shown alongside "crits" made about them, not just by pupils from the four Young@Art primary schools but by Higher art students at Dumfries Academy. Comments made by Clare Meechan and Priscilla Joseph are especially mature and thought-provoking. But the student claiming that artist Cecile Walton (1891-1956) was a man from Tennessee who went to college in Miami really needs to go to Dumfries and Galloway Council's new website www.artistsfootsteps.co.uk to get her facts straight.

Gracefield Arts Centre, open Tuesday-Saturday T: 01387 262084.

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