Project aims to beautify rain barrels
By PAMELA WOOD, Staff Writer
By Pamela Wood, The Capital
Top - Cindy Fletcher-Holden is one of six artists putting their artwork
on a rain barrel for the Back Creek Conservancy's "Art
in the Yard" project. Bottom -
Merrilyne Hendrickson is painting a blue heron on a giant plastic
rain barrel for the Back Creek Conservancy. Her rain barrel
and five others will be placed around the creek on March 24.
Being environmentally conscious doesn't have to be a burden.
In fact, going green can be quite beautiful, at least in the minds
of a half-dozen Annapolis artists.
For weeks they've been poring over their creations: stately blue herons,
whimsical crabs, fat raindrops - all painted on giant plastic barrels.
The barrels, when placed under downspouts, collect rainwater that can
be used to water plants and grass. Environmentalists encourage the use
of rain barrels as a way to conserve water and reduce the harmful stormwater
runoff that damages streams and creeks.
Normally, rain barrels are oversize plastic monstrosities. They're often
electric blue, bright green or translucent white. But that just won't
do in a historic area or a neighborhood with strict rules.
"The rain barrels are rather unattractive. They are 50-gallon plastic
drums," said Kristina von Rosenvinge, a volunteer with the Back Creek
Conservancy. "We brainstormed and came up with 'Art in the Yard' to show
that rain barrels can beautify your yard. They can be attractive."
Art in the Yard is a multipart project designed to increase the use of
rain barrels in and around the creek, one of the four creeks within the
Annapolis city limits.
Rain barrels are one way to combat the problems of stormwater runoff.
Stormwater picks up sediment and other harmful substances, carrying them
into local waterways. And when it's not properly controlled, the rushing
water can erode away stream banks.
The Back Creek stormwater program has several parts:
Today: The conservancy will host an informational meeting on stormwater
called "What Is Your Watershed Address?" The meeting is at 7 p.m. at
the Eastport-Annapolis Neck Library.
March 24: The decorated rain barrels will be installed at commercial
locations around town to kick off a public education campaign to get
people in the watershed to buy discounted rain barrels. People interested
in bidding on a decorated rain barrel can do so at the locations.
April 21: People who ordered terested in bidding on a decorated rain
barrel can do so at the locations.
April 21: People who ordered
rain barrels can pick them up - and paint them if they like - at the
Eastport Fire Station.
Ms. von Rosenvinge said it wasn't too hard to convince artists to get
on board - even though using plastic drums as a canvas was a challenge.
"I'm very interested in saving the bay and anything people can do," said
artist Judi MacDonald. "It's a really nice and easy thing to do - especially
if they're attractive - to put these in the yard."
Ms. MacDonald usually works in watercolor on paper, so painting on rain
barrels was quite a change of pace.
She used acrylics - first priming and putting an overall beige coat on
the barrel, then sketching her design of herons and crabs and filling
in with paint.
Then, in one room of her creekside condo, her creation came alive.
"It took up the whole room, practically," she said.
Cindy Fletcher-Holden, who paints on canvas and also does murals, was
inspired by another unique work of art she had done - a giant underwater
scene at the wave pool at the Six Flags America amusement park in Prince
She liked the bubbles she painted for that project, and eventually adapted
the idea into water droplets for the rain barrel. Her completed rain
barrel is light teal with more than 100 water drops of varying sizes
dotting the barrel.
Merrilyne Hendrickson still is working on her rain barrel. She's painting
a scene of a blue heron standing on a log, stretching and preening.
"I thought this might be fun," said Ms. Hendrickson, who owns a boat
lettering business. "I'm very environmentally conscious and this is a
very environmentally conscious project."
Other artists creating painted rain barrels include Lucinda Cole Semans,
John Williams and Rosemary Freitas Williams.
Louise Olsen, vice president of the conservancy, said plenty of volunteers
and local businesses have contributed to the rain barrel cause.
"It's just been marvelous," she said.
Residents of the Back Creek area can learn more about buying rain barrels
by sending an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org or M2Olsen@aol.com
Published March 12, 2007, The
Capital, Annapolis, Md.