Quad-City Times The Quad-City Times | Posted: Tuesday, January 4, 2011 2:00 am,
With slow, deliberate movements of her paintbrush, Becca Keim adds strokes of red, blue and yellow to her canvas.
In a room full of other young people, talking, laughing and carrying on around her, the 18-year-old Moline High School student stays quiet as she works.
And she smiles to herself as the painting evolves into a picture of a flower.
"I like to paint," she tells a visitor. "I like drawing shapes."
She likes to draw animals, too, adds Mark Smith, co-founder of the Hand-in-Hand organization in Bettendorf.
That's where Keim and many other teens and young adults with special needs get together once a month to create artwork through a new program called Inspiration Studio.
During classes led by Quad-City art professionals, participants get to focus on various famous artists - such as Picasso or Van Gogh - and create their own art based on those artists' unique styles, but with their own personal twist.
"You give them the idea and you let them go with it," said Lynn Gingras-Taylor, an artist who works as creative arts coordinator at the Figge Art Museum in Davenport. "It's fun to see what they make. You give them the idea, but you just can't believe some of their interpretations."
The goal is to nurture the participants' self-expression, give them a social outlet and help them develop their artistic talents, said Smith, whose autistic 21-year-old son Peter also participates.