PIKE COUNTY - Scenes of creativity can be found on 1,800-pound canvases throughout Pennsylvania once the snow falls. In Pike County however, just two of the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation’s snowplows will bear the imaginations of those who participated in the second annual “Paint the Plow” competition.
Once again, the talents of high school artists are on display, after they shared their visions on the 12-foot-long plows. Given a theme, the artists were free to create anything that coincided with the concept of “don’t crowd the plow.”
Only Wallenpaupack and Delaware Valley were the districts in Pike County to participate this year, which many of the young artists said they enjoyed. Laura Fuchylo from PennDOT said the event was a “community outreach program” where the artists share their artwork to represent their schools.
The artists started painting in September, and recently the public chose a winner by “liking” their favorite plow on PennDOT’s Facebook page.
Despite the rainy weather, Fuchylo said the students “persevered” with the plows turning out “awesome.” Last year, Wallenpaupack participated, but this was the first for DV. While PennDOT provides the plows, it is up to the districts to provide the “special paint,” said Megan Vennie from PennDOT.
Scenes from last year can still be seen on a few of the plows said Fuchylo. An Art Teacher from WAHS, Lisa Peet said the rust-oleum paint works well. A sophomore, Gabriella Kovalchick who helped with outlining and painting WAHS’s chameleon, said she was pleased with the students’ work.
The students presented ideas to Principal Jim Kane who chose a chameleon that bears the school’s colors. Last year, the school’s mascot of a buck was chosen and so, this year Peet said the chameleon was best, but it’s camouflaged in the snow. In total, Peet figured the students spent 20 hours working on their canvas, each focusing on different areas of the plow, some priming the base and then stenciling in the image.
While there is a theme that has to be incorporated into the scene, the students are free to create whatever their hearts desire, whether their school mascot, words of wisdom and more. Fuchylo said seeing the students’ art is always great and so, she hopes the contest continues to be a success, in part because it shows that there is more to PennDOT since the public can be involved.
Fuchylo said the WAHS students’ plow was “amazing” but she wasn’t too surprised because of their work last year. But, because of the size of the plow, it is a “big project” and many of the students had probably never participated in such a project.
The Fine Art 1 class consists of a lot of upperclassmen said Peet and so, she felt it was important that they were involved and she saw the project as an “opportunity” for the class to do something together.
A senior at WAHS, Lyndsy Mergner helped prime the base and paint the chameleon. Painting a plow, that Mergner said was “difficult” because the dripping paint was a challenge to avoid, as well as painting because condensation would cause the paint to bubble. The project was “fun” though, because of how Mergner was able to talk while she worked with her peers.
Amy Gavey, a junior said the project was an opportunity to be “creative and out there.” She found the work to be “messy” as she painted the chameleon and snowflakes. For Gavey, she too liked making new friends and getting away from the focus of getting grades in a class.
A junior, Kat Mihalislis said the WAHS plow was “creative” since their focus wasn’t a buckhorn, making it “stand out.” Normally, Mihalislis paints with watercolor and so, painting rust-oleum was a task because it wasn’t removable and it layered thickly.
Just three AP Studio seniors from DV painted their plow, and Julia Thompson said the artists were able to showcase the “beauty of nature and winter” while also showing how a plow clears roads within their imagery.
For days, Thompson said the students “brainstormed,” referencing winter scenes with the hope of incorporating the northern lights while also showing different tones and textures within a colorful image. Each student offered different painting styles to the project, said Adrianna Mojica, making the wolf the “star of the show” and evergreens an addition to the background.
Thompson said their teacher, Trisha Kaylor, compared the project to painting the Sistine Chapel because of the positioning of the plow, which made standing back and looking at their work difficult. The greatest challenge was focusing on the details.
When the students worked, the plow was positioned upright, which led them to lay in a few puddles, that Thompson laughed about. The outcome she liked, even though it didn’t turn out how it was initially planned.
Mojica said the project was “very challenging” because of the students’ efforts to make the scene look good from “afar,” since it is a snowplow. Thompson said she believes it was the students’ individual “styles” that made their plow its own.
In the end, Destiny Lourenco said she didn’t expect the details to become what they had and she was quite pleased because of the northern lights and the wolf weren’t easy. The wolf however, was the trickiest because of the texture of the fur and wanting to make it seem real. The key to the competition, was going against WAHS, since they are rivals. Lourenco believes the students’ detailed scene will set their plow apart.
When Fuchylo first saw DV’s plow, she said it was “phenomenal.” Together, the girls said part of the challenge was “weathering the elements.”
Her students, Kaylor said were truly dedicated since they spent hours after school planning and working. When the students proposed an idea, Kaylor was “terrified” because it would require a lot of brush strokes and was “very painterly.” And so, she encouraged the students to be “graphic and bold.” Even though it was the girls’ project, Kaylor had faith they would do a great job and, in the end, they did because of their focus and commitment.
Fuchylo said DV’s plow was impressive, but she was especially surprised by the wolf since it was “amazing.” Impressed with both districts’ plows, Fuchylo said it will be a close race because the scenes are so different, but still so good and so, it is a “healthy competition.”
In the end, DV received a total of 422 votes; Wallenpaupack had a total of 305 votes and the overall winner was North Pocono with 1,200 votes.