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Artist Elgin Jumper passes down palate of know-how

Elgin Jumper Teaches07BIG CYPRESS — Not even with a swish of his brush would Seminole artist Elgin Jumper paint himself to be an educator.

“I am not a teacher, but I am an artist who likes to share with other artists. Children? They are emerging and inspiring artists,” he said.

On April 10, Jumper, whose paintings have been exhibited in several art books and venues including the Ah-Tah-Thi-Ki Museum, provided a multitude of paint supplies and a wealth of knowledge to children at the Big Cypress Reservation’s Education Center.

The event was the second fine arts painting workshop hosted by Jumper, of Hollywood, and sponsored by the Willie Frank Memorial Library for people of all ages. On hand to help were library site supervisor Gretchen DeBree and Ah-Tah-Thi-Ki Museum’s programs manager Melissa May – who also tried her hand at painting.

A rainbow of acrylic and oil colors in plastic and metal tubes filled a supply table. Watercolor containers and neatly packed boxes of pastel sticks flanked paper towels and water cups at creation stations where students sat before large sheets of paper taped to cardboard.

“The most important rule to remember is: There are no rules,” Jumper told the group.

But there are guidelines.

Jumper explained various painting styles by displaying some of his works. He showed a cubist painting of the great Seminole warrior Osceola; an impressionistic landscape view of the sunrise east of Snake Road; and a modern art piece in which he scrolled his name in loops.

As students eagerly began, Jumper showed them how to “contour” the subject of their art piece by using pencil to outline their idea. He demonstrated how to apply water over the pencil drawing, then brush on watercolors. He suggested layering acrylic and pastels to add dimension to the work. He coached them to “dry brush” for texture.

“Co-mingle your mediums and try to be versatile,” Jumper advised.

Most children created with blues, purples or greens as prominent colors but all incorporated one or more of the Seminole colors – yellow, black, red and white.

“I really like the Seminole colors, but I also like purple,” said Jaiven Washington, 8, who outlined his name in gray surrounded by swaths of blue and purple.

Jalee Wilcox, 7, showed deliberate technique with her rendering of a brown puppy amid hearts and a peace sign. Eight-year-old Akira Cabral’s thick royal blue acrylic was punctuated in purposeful candy red lines.

“For us to be able to paint whatever we want is the best part of art,” Cabral said.

Jumper, who studied art at Broward Community College and with Nilda Comas at the Legacy Art Studio in Fort Lauderdale, said creating art requires practice.

“It’s a journey of discovery,” he said.

The finished workshop pieces will be framed, then exhibited at the library. The pieces created in the first workshop in March have been delivered for display at the Big Cypress Boys & Girls Club.

DeBree said children and adults are welcome to attend a special Mother’s Day workshop 2 p.m. on May 8. Children will be encouraged to create pieces for their mothers.

Jumper said kids and adults need to be exposed to art and be given the opportunity to create as often as possible.

“Seeing art and doing it makes lives brighter – it’s all good,” Jumper said. “The Seminole Tribe wasn’t built in a day. The Seminole artist can’t be built in a day either.”