Markers, brushes, blank canvases and an assortment of paints sat on newspaper-covered tables in a room at the Aiken County Public Library on Thursday. 

As children selected art supplies, Youth Services Librarian Marie Davidsohn asked the group one question: What are you going to make?

“I’m going to wing it,” Allie Thomas, 11, said as she began to paint green and brown streaks across a canvas.

The Aiken Public Library’s first “Bad Art” event invited Aiken County teens rising sixth through 12th grades to escape the summer heat and create art with supplies provided free of charge. 

The event is part of a series of teen events through the public library’s summer reading program that aims to provide a stress-free environment and fun activities for local children and teens. 

“Not everybody is an artist, but art is actually shown to really help out with stress,” Davidsohn said. “So even if you’re bad at art, it’s just fun to come on in and just get that stress out.”

From 4 p.m. to 5:30 p.m., teens filled canvases with art creating a variety of images ranging from people to animals and scenery.

While most attendees did not consider themselves artists, Joseph DiPasquale, 12, said he did not think any of the art made at the event was bad art.

“I don’t think any art is considered bad,” DiPasquale said. “Technically, as long as it’s not blank, there’s something they came up with – and who decides what’s bad?”

As parents began to pick up their children and art supplies were put away, Allie’s mother, Nicole Thomas, said although they were new to visiting the library, programs like “Bad Art” are a great way for children Allie’s age to interact.

As the two walked out of the library, Allie showed her mother the painting she made.

“As long as it's something on there and I get a smile like that, it’s worth it,” Thomas said.

Davidsohn said she hopes to have a similar event under a different name in the future. More summer events held by the Aiken County Public Library can be found at www.abbe-lib.org/event/.

Matthew Enfinger is a general assignment reporter with The Aiken Standard. Follow him on Twitter: @matt_enfinger