Innovative art lessons and a passionate teacher have helped a St Francis De Sales Catholic Primary School Woolaware student earn a place in the running for a trip to Japan.

Rhett Ellis, Year 2, is a finalist in Toyota’s Dream Car Art Contest for his ‘Ben 10 Car’, a bright creation that gives away gadgets – one of nine children competing for a holiday to visit Toyota’s high-tech headquarters.

“My car can fly all round the world, everywhere,” Rhett said “And little hands drop down things, like Apple Watches, for me and everybody.”

It’s really important to bring out the kids’ self-confidence

– Kate Ng
Rhett is “very excited and happy” at the prospect of visiting Japan, but Art Teacher Kate Ng said the decision to encourage students to enter the competition is about more than prizes.Ms Ng works with students at St Francis De Sales one day per week, providing relief time for teachers and ensuring students have access to Art’s considerable benefits. She ensures children have the chance to enter a number of prizes each year, including the Young Archies, and to exhibit their work.

“I think that it’s really important to bring out the kids’ self-confidence, and encourage them” she said. “When we do sport or music we enter competitions or tournaments, why not for Art?”

Her lessons are also integrated with other curriculum content, allowing students another way to access crucial information while developing fine motor skills, enhancing hand-eye co-ordination and building creativity and discipline.

“For example Year 2 is learning about weather. So I looked into Aboriginal artists, and Katrina Germein has done a lot of illustrations for picture books. So we looked at Big Rain Coming.”

“Now they’re doing Aboriginal-style paintings, using markers for drawing skills, oil pastels to do the blending and paint to do the background. Next week they’ll do the dots, when they do they’ll need a lot of discipline, a lot of calmness,” she said.

I can draw new things all the time

– Rhett Ellis

Ms Ng works with a number of Sydney Catholic schools in the area, and said students especially love when she helps them create large murals or tiled mosaics. Rhett loves everything about her art lessons, including drawing, colouring in and painting, but his favourite place to create is on the pavement in chalk.

“When there’s rain and it’s on the ground outside, it will wash away and I can draw new things all the time – the rain is like a rubber,” he said.