Since the beginning of January, a group of hard-working student artists from Haverhill High School have gathered at Burnham School twice a week.
In a basement cafeteria converted to a temporary art studio, they’ve been painting images of nature along the Merrimack River.
Among them is sophomore Arielle Dube. Just like artists have done for centuries, she dabbed her paintbrush into a painter’s palette and gently applied flecks of white to the cap of a reddish-orange American Caesar’s Mushroom, the kind of fungi you might find along the Bradford Rail Trail.
Arielle double-checked a copy of the National Audubon Society’s Field Guide to North American Mushrooms to make sure the mushrooms she was painting looked as similar to the photo as possible.
”I think it’s come a long way,” she said about the large mural she is helping create as public art for the Rail Trail.
Arielle and her fellow students are doing the art work to be placed along the trail to make it more attractive to hikers and bikers. It is part of a larger effort — the city is also asking local sculptors to donate their work to the trail along the river.
Arielle and Haverhill High School art teacher Ellen Mullane were recently working on one outdoor scene that will be part of the large mural. They were sitting on a blue tarp on the basement floor of Burnham School. Their panel featured images of birds resting on the branches of a wild rose bush, a beaver, grass and other images of wildlife.
“This is one of the most committed groups of students I’ve worked with,” Mullane said about Dube and the other students she and local mural artist Liz Persing have been assisting.
Eleven students are involved in the project — four freshmen, four sophomores, two juniors and one senior. They all have a flair for art, their teachers said, and they are all committed to the project, knowing their creation will be seen by all who walk the trail.