Back To News

Starry Night with Mardie Rees


Gig Harbor, WA—With its dark, swirling sky and vivid brush strokes, it might just be the most recognizable painting of all time. After completing it, Van Gogh wrote to his brother, "This morning I saw the country from my window a long time before sunrise, with nothing but the morning star, which looked very big." For centuries Starry Night has captured the hearts of art-lovers, astronomers, and historians alike. This summer, some young minds will take on the challenge to recreate the masterpiece in their own style.

Now in its third year, Apprentice Academy is again washing brushes and preparing easels to pick up the slack once the school year is over. Founded by local artist Mardie Rees, the art school offers excitingly educational art camps throughout the summer. “It’s so rewarding to see not just the talent but the passion these kids have,” says Rees, “They come in to the studio almost apprehensive, but after an hour they are champions.”

This year’s camps feature painting Van Gogh’s infamous Starry Night (Aug 14-17). Kids and teens from ages five through seventeen will have a chance to create their very own master copy and dive into the rich palette and methods of the storied impressionist. Apprentice Academy has also partnered with Harbor WildWatch in “Sculpting Salmon” (Aug 7- 10) for a unique opportunity to blend science and art by sculpting salmon and learning the unique anatomical features of our local salmon population. For those who want to take a sculpting class from a professional sculptor, “Garden Gnomes” (July 24-27) is a fun way to pinch, poke, tool, and detail your own clay creation. “Pokemon Anime” (July 31-Aug 3) focuses on the gleaming eyes, sharp hair, and lively expressions that make up the telltale drawing style of Japanese Anime.

Mardie Rees is professional working artist known locally for her sculpture of Saint Anthony and Child, a life-size bronze sculpture inside the lobby of Gig Harbor’s Saint Anthony Hospital installed in 2008. She has garnered awards and commissions nationally and last year her sculpture for the WWII Marine Raiders was moved to the Pentagon. In April she received the prestigious “Signature Status” from Portrait Society of America, bestowed on those who’ve established notoriety in the field of commissioned portraiture.

Don’t miss a chance to sign up for any Art Camp this summer as spaces are filling rapidly. This year Apprentice Academy has partnered with Teaching Toys and Books to raffle off a free art camp. Visit any store location (Proctor, Tacoma or Uptown Gig Harbor) and enter to win!

All classes are held at Mardie Rees' professional art studio in Gig Harbor located near the Purdy Bridge. Register at or call (253) 405-6694 to register. Cost is $180-$250 for a 4-day Art Camp.