The word diptych is defined as a pair of pictures or carvings on two panels, usually hinged together.

The word diptych is defined as a pair of pictures or carvings on two panels, usually hinged together.

This is the framework used for the McPherson Recreation Commission’s drawing and painting diptych classes for third- through ninth-graders. Rebecca Lewis is continuing her second week instructing the class this summer, helping two dozen students understand how to compose a painting divided into two parts.

The hinge of the diptych is its most vital element. Although the drawings and paintings are divided, it is essential the work have a consistent theme that ties the two sides together.

For example, Miranda Axelson, 12, chose to draw a bridge she saw in a magazine. While the bridge looked the same one both sides, the scenery on the left was during spring, and the scenery on the right was during winter.

She said it was difficult to distinguish seasons without using color, but used cross hatching to show liveliness and growth for spring, and used dots and straight lines to represent the stillness of winter.
Once it was complete, Axelson said she was proud to show it in Friday’s art show.

“What made me feel the best was, when you show it and everybody goes around and says their favorite part, they all really liked everything about it, and it makes me feel really good,” she said. “Art is kind of calming and it’s fun to see the whole process come together, and at the very end everyone really likes it and has comments for it.”

Ava Brunsell, 9, drew Japanese comic book characters that wore different clothes or combed their hair differently. She said she works on art in a lot of her free time, but since the class forced her to paint nearly the same thing twice, it was twice as hard as normal painting.

Other students chose to draw people walking on a hill in the day and night, or animals with two different backgrounds.

Lewis said diptych allows her students to think about their work before they dive in.

“It’s hard for some of them. They have to really think about composition, style and a work that speaks from both sides a similar message,” she said. “They really put some thought into it, and it's really neat what they come up with.”

It’s important for Lewis that the students learn from trial and error and come up with their own original works, rather than copying from her example. This, she said, is necessary for any art form.

“I believe they learn so much by the experience in learning what works and what doesn’t and making mistakes. I think art should be about exploration and freedom to make mistakes and be challenged,” she said. “That’s my goal, that they would tackle things that are difficult and see them through. My whole goal is that they don’t need me anymore.”

Contact Jenae Pauls at and follow her on Twitter @PaulsSentinel