Art teacher paints canoe for Conner Prairie


Darlene Patterson is usually a potter, but she took on an entirely different type of art project.

The Noblesville resident and Promise Road Elementary art teacher took part in a White River Project painting a canoe for display at Conner Prairie in Fishers on the trail that leads to White River.

“This is awesome for me to be able to go out of my current comfort zone and do a project that I wouldn’t normally be spending my time doing,” said Patterson, who has a home studio for her pottery. “I loved doing the project that was a cross between a sculpture and a painting. It was super fun.”

Her painted canoe represents the four seasons.

The White River Alliance, an organization for regional water resource protection in Indiana, in partnership with the White River Vision Plan, placed 10 art canoes in key anchor locations along the White River.

Haley Cowart, education and outreach coordination with the White River Alliance, said the painted canoes are designed to bring attention to the river and some events going on.

“The 10 locations were chosen from the White River Vision Plan,” Cowart said.

Each of the canoes was painted by a different local artist from Marion County or Hamilton County.

The canoes were installed in July and are on display through October, with five canoes in Marion County and the other five in Hamilton County.

Patterson’s project took about six weeks from start to finish.

“The process I used to decorate the boat I had was a process where I used stencil and spray paint,” Patterson said. “Once I had the boat and all the materials, it was two or three weeks for that partner. Because I used spray paint and stencils, a lot of what I had to do was think in reverse. The color I wanted to be the dominant color I had to put that on first. Then I build up layers of color and all of the materials that I was applying on there to make texture and patterns. I had to put that on and then spray another color. It was fun to do. But I had to think in reverse of how I wanted the colors to turn out.”

Patterson said the structure of the boat with a riveted keel didn’t allow her to paint her initial idea of a river down the middle of the boat.

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