Category Archives: Painter

Private Lessons

Teaching is an active profession. Filling my time in the classroom is never a problem, I’m always moving from one student to the next; fetching supplies, showing new techniques, and discussing what the kids are creating. Sometimes it’s hectic, but I enjoy my students’ creative enthusiasm. It suits me and contrasts nicely with the quiet time I spend making my artwork.

Then there are the private lessons. In the beginning, I had doubts that I could quietly observe and guide only one person. What would I do with all the spare time? It turns out that these hours are some of the happiest of my work week. I’ve gotten to know some wonderful people and share their artistic successes.

Self Portrait, Age 12

Self Portrait, Age 12

Above is a self-portrait by one of my favorite students.  She has just turned thirteen and is smart and creative, and we have an excellent rapport. She challenges me but also respects my advice. We first met when she was nine and I’ve been working with her for a little over three years. She may want a career in art and I want to give her a good start; lots of basic knowledge balanced by her interests and curiosity. One of the ways we’re marking her progress is that she periodically paints a horse.  

Horse painted in the 4th grade.

First Horse, painted in the 4th grade.

It was one of the first images she painted with me and repeating it was her idea.  She’s serious about her artwork and is willing to take time to build a strong portfolio. This first picture, above, is well composed and the pink horse is delightful.  For the latest depiction, I wanted her to create a grayscale painting and use glazes to add the color.  It’s an old technique, but the understanding gained was worth all her hard work.

Grisaille underpainting.

Grisaille underpainting.

The final painting.  Glazes of color were used over the underpainting.  The musculature of the animal shows through sheer color.

The finished painting. Glazes of color were applied over the underpainting so that the  musculature of the animal shows through the sheer color.

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Her lastest painting is a watercolor. It’s a wonderful tribute to a dog friend who passed away. Much love and care went into making this special work.

I’m amazed at how her technical ability has grown over the past three years and I’m looking forward to seeing how her talent evolves.  She has the intellect  and the drive and her portfolio is off to a good start!

First Day Jitters

 

Self Portraits, created by students from Saint Francis de Sales Elementary, 2013/14 school year.

For the last few years, I’ve been teaching art at two different schools. Getting to know the kids over a period of time has its advantages.  I appreciate Sally’s beautiful line drawings and  Thunder’s colorful and bold designs and it’s easy to guide students to a deeper understanding of art making when you know them and how they approach an assignment.  I’m delighted to see all the kid’s skills develop and that moment, around the 4th grade when those who were struggling to understand observational drawing finally grasp how it works, makes me as happy as it does them. Most of my students apply what I teach them and build on previous lessons, and because of this, their artwork is confident and inventive. This year, I’ve added a new school to the mix. One of my teaching partners, Sofia Atmatzidou-Eulgem and I are creating  an art program for 230 students grades Kindergarten through 8th.

I’m working with the 4th to 8th grades and any nerves I felt at meeting the kids were soon forgotten. Most of them were enthusiastic and extremely polite and my first day went by in a flash. The students seemed happy to have the opportunity to draw but there are those few worried students that I hope to reach. They were too well-behaved to groan outwardly, but wrapping their arms around their paper to shield it from my view is a sure sign of discomfort and one student erased his whole drawing as the rest of the class was turning in their work.  My drawing pencils and I caused some kids to want to be anywhere but in there seats.

Art is a funny thing, most people think you’re either born with the ability to create or you’re not. That everything an artists makes is easy to do and looks amazing when completed. If this were true, the world would be a much more visually exciting place. But art making requires knowledge, thought, ability, perseverance, and the courage to evaluate what you’ve created and make changes when necessary, all skills I try to convey to young artists.

I want all of my students to learn and have a wonderful experience, but most of all I want the worried kids to know that it’s not about being the best, it’s about enjoying the process.

Check out http://creativekidshavefun.com to learn more about our programs and to view our student’s work.

 

Creativity Versus Formula

Aiden, is in the 7th grade and created this unique silhouette portrait.

Aiden, is in the 7th grade and created this unique silhouette portrait.

Gavin, a 5th grader incorporated his interests in building and Legos into his background.  By personalizing his portrait he adds interest and meaning to the final design.

Gavin, a 5th grader incorporated his interests in building and Legos into his background. Personalizing his portrait  adds interest and meaning to the final design.

Discovery and growth are an important part of the art making process. I want my young students to use their imaginations and develop good visual problem solving strategies. One of my strengths is being able to analyze and make suggestions that can enhance a painting or drawing while helping a student to see more deeply and evaluate their own work.

Technique is important, but it usually develops with time and experience.  I find I need to repeat specific techniques or principles several times to get people to try something new. One of my adult students told me it took her hearing and seeing a new concept three times before she began to incorporate this knowledge into her own work. I don’t know if this is the case for all, but my observations tell me it’s true.

Skye is six and  has developed an unusual  brushstroke technique.  She puts a brush in both hands and dips each in a different color.  She  is able to blend and layer the pigments using her unique physical abilities to amazing results.

Skye is six and has developed an unusual brushstroke technique. She puts a brush in both hands and dips each in a different color. She is able to blend and layer the pigments using her unique physical abilities to amazing results.

Today, I wanted the kids to layer tempera paint so that the first color applied shines through the subsequent layers of pigment. It’s a tough concept but its fun to work on mixing the paint on the paper and not on a palette, and the results are a more complex color story. It saddened me to see that several of the paintings had a formulaic background. I don’t teach to a recipe, so they learned this elsewhere.  These paintings lacked spontaneity and personal style. I like to look at a student’s work and know who the painter is without looking at the name. The children are all unique personalities and that should come through in their choice of color, their brushstrokes, and even in what they leave out of the finished work. It’s a lot easier to have students follow directions and make a painting that looks just like the example, but what are they really learning?

To view more of my student’s work, visit http://creativekidshavefun.com.