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McMillan Art Students Paint Unusual Canvases


Art II Advanced students at McMillan Junior High recreate famous artists’ paintings on chairs. 

The project started in October when these eighth graders researched famous painters who inspired them. They were to choose a painting to recreate on a chair that would later be sold in a silent auction during Fine Arts Night.

Students pose with chairs.

Eighth-grader Sadie Wehner painted Sarah Lee’s Starry River on her chair.

“I enjoyed watching my chair come to life,” Wehner said. “It started from a white, wooden chair and turned into a beautiful, painted chair with stunning artwork displayed all over. This [project] took a lot of dedication and time to finish and it was fun.”

Student stands with chair.

Students were encouraged to salvage a chair to paint.

“My dance teacher found my chair on the side of the road,” Bailey Sosa said. “It was very dirty and not the prettiest, but I turned it into a beautiful chair.”

She painted Sarah Lee’s The Night the Stars Fell on her chair.

Student stands with chair.

Students were instructed to select a painting with an art style they connected with and research it to learn more about the artist and inspiration behind it. They put their findings in a slideshow that they presented to their class.

Neha Siddiqui was drawn to Claude Monet’s Water Lilies, a medium-oil paint she found online.

“This painting ran up to me and said, ‘pick me, choose me!’” Siddiqui said. “It revealed to me the beautiful Cerulean blue color and its magnificent olive and fern green colors. The divine red water lilies signify the beauty of the painting itself.”

Emily Wood replicated Vincent van Gogh’s Starry Night on a chair she found at a thrift store for $2. 

“My chair may not have had a lot of history, but through the process of painting, I gave it a story,” Wood said.

Student stands with chair.

Art teacher Shawn Wilson came up with this project idea and has been doing it with her Art II Advanced students for the last eight years.

“Their personalities really come out in the artwork they choose,” Wilson said.

Class poses for photo with teacher.

Sosa said it took her a while to recreate Lee’s shooting stars on her chair.

“I love my grass and shooting stars,” Sosa said. “At the end, my chair looked really good and neat; it is soft and graceful and really shows my personality -- I’m calm and not crazy, which also shows in my chair.”

Students pose with chairs.

Nineteen painted chairs were presented for auction at Fine Arts night during band, choir and theater performances.

“About three chairs were brought out and bidded on during each performance,” Wilson said. 

The student artists were unaware of how much each chair was sold for.

“It's not about that,” Wilson said. “It's about the community and all of us coming together as Fine Arts.”

The money raised from the silent auction will go towards a hands-on field trip to the Encaustic Center in Richardson, where students will make art using wax.


Student poses with chair.

“It was a massive project,” Timothy George, who painted Adriaen Coorte’s Still Life with Wild Strawberries on a slat chair, said. “Larger than any project I’d ever done, but it was really nice to see all the work I put in result in a nice art piece.”