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White Oak photo studio partners with local academy arts students

| Tuesday, March 19, 2013, 12:01 a.m.
Jennifer R. Vertullo | Daily News
At Curt's Photography in White Oak, photographer Curt Painter snaps a shot of McKeesport Area High School academy art students, standing from left, Alexis Miller, Everett Chronowski, Kaylyn Henry, Tiana Ford and Tayla Rouse; and seated, Felicia Savage, Danny Wade, Sara Levendusky and Chris Beech.
Jennifer R. Vertullo | Daily News
McKeesport Area High School art teacher Diana Pazuchanics-Catley talks with academy art students, seated from left, Emily Mandella, Emily Scott, Ashley Brown and Chandler McGraw during a planning session at Curt's Photography in White Oak.
Jennifer R. Vertullo | Daily News
Photographer Curt Painter flips through a wedding album during a career discussion with McKeesport Area academy art students.

Experimenting in the film noir tradition, McKeesport Area art students captured their ideas with help from a White Oak businessman.

At Curt's Photography, academy art students played the roles of detectives, victims, criminals and other suspects as they posed for poster-style shots taken by photographer Curt Painter.

Playing on heightened drama in a classroom mystery, Painter walked students through a series of photographs that will help to illustrate their story line.

“This partnership with Curt's Photography helps to show students there is more to art than painting and drawing,” teacher Diana Pazuchanics-Catley said.

Incorporating everything from art history to color psychology or language arts to algebra, she said, academy art projects cover a cross-curricular range of subjects.

“There are digital projects that incorporate math and technology and others that involve science,” senior Chris Beech agreed.

The film noir lesson was inspired by a version of “Oliver Twist” that Pazuchanics-Catley watched while brainstorming about the academy art students' contribution to this year's spring musical, “Oliver!”

“Every year, we do an art project that incorporates each character of the play,” she explained. “Students will paint the characters from ‘Oliver!' and frame them to look like pieces of a filmstrip.”

Students will capture digital images of their classmates in character, use Adobe Photoshop to find a unique color scheme and then move on to painting.

Painter said much of his day is spent at the computer working with Photoshop to guarantee his images meet his as well as his clients' standards.

Encouraging students to think about career goals as they pursue their artistic interests, he said, education and experience are important.

While Painter did not attend a formal two-year or four-year school, he participated in photography seminars geared toward specific assignments including portraits and weddings.

He said much of his skill was perfected on the job, learning how to work well with others and experimenting with the art of photography.

“Any business you're doing, if you treat someone the way you want to be treated, you can't do them wrong,” he said. “You just have to have the skills to back it up.”

Jennifer R. Vertullo is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-664-9161, ext. 1956, or jvertullo@tribweb.com.

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