You might say the picture in the office of Jaindl Elementary School Principal Di Schantz is paint-by-(great) numbers.
The painting of two beach chairs and an umbrella on a stretch of sand by the sea is composed of the fingerprints of about 600 students and more than 75 staff members from . It was Schantz’s going away present when she transferred from her job as principal at Cetronia in South Whitehall to the new in Breinigsville in 2010.
From a distance, the artwork looks like the work of turn-of-the-century French Pointillism artist Georges Seurat. But to Schantz, it’s worth much more.
The acrylic painting is the brainchild of Susan Hardy, an art teacher at Cetronia, who got the students and employees to contribute their fingerprints over two weeks in the spring of 2010. The hard part was making sure Schantz didn’t hear about it before it was presented to her at the end-of-year assembly.
“Believe it or not, 600 elementary students kept a secret,” said Hardy, who lives in Upper Saucon Township. “I knew that Mrs. Schantz loved the beach. If she’s not at work, she’s probably at the beach.”
Schantz said she was floored by the gift and how each child and staff member contributed. “I was the principal there for six and half years and they became my Cetronia family,” she said. “They will always have a special place in my heart, and that painting is a reminder of that."
Hardy, who has been with Parkland School District since 2009, said the fingerprint painting solved the problem of how each pupil could participate without the artwork becoming a wall-sized mural.
“How can we have every student in the building do something without having a large scale project?” Hardy asked. “They have tiny hands so that helped a little bit too.”
Hardy sketched the outline of the chairs, umbrella, beach and sky and mixed the paints. She showed the pupils a photograph of how it should look and then got them to place their paint-dipped fingers in the right area of the canvas. Some fingerprints overlap a bit but that fits with the artistic style.
At the assembly, it was clear how much teachers and students were going to miss Schantz, Hardy said. But the students loved seeing the finished product, knowing they had contributed.
“It was really cool to see their reaction,” Hardy said.