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مَنْ طَلَبَ العُلا سَهِرَ الليالي

This week in ART YARD Advanced Studio on zoom artists explored the psychology of looking up in this week’s lesson, Looking Up, by Art Yard’s very own Art Therapist and long-time teaching artist, Jenn Dodson. Inspired by Andrea Mantegna's ceiling fresco Oculus of the Camera degli Sposi, and the research of social scientists Amy Cuddy and Jessica Tracy, Jenn walked students through just how looking up alters one's brain and body chemistry to experience less stress and more expansive feelings of joy and pride.

Jenn reports: “During the art-making portion of the lesson, one-point perspective and orthogonal lines were utilized to create the illusion of depth of space in a variety of settings, real and imagined. Artists were tasked with creating an image representing a place of personal significance within the confines of a circular "canvas," just like an oculus looking into another world. By the end of the lesson, there was a collective appreciation for working with this specific technique as well as the feeling that one really traveled to all of the environments depicted. From inside of the iconic Musee de Louvre, to the familiar Brooklyn backyards (and even to the moon!), Advanced Studio Artists used materials of their choice to convey the feeling of looking up in these special places.

Andrea Mantegna, Oculus (detail ceiling fresco), 1473

Delphine duly impressed us all by creating several beautiful paintings during the session. In addition, her contribution to critique was splendid. We particularly enjoyed when Delphine pointed out that Sarah most certainly lived up to the 100% standard she received on her last paper for her Masters in Art Therapy program at School of Visual Arts.

Delphine Levenson, Looking Up (l, ll, lll & page in progress)

مَنْ طَلَبَ العُلا سَهِرَ الليالي

Sarah translates the poem which inspired her piece, Whoever seeks to reach up high, to achieve success, and greatness must stay up all night, describes her work: "On the right is a stair for me to reach up high to the stars and a brush to be a better artist. On the left side is books which I am seeking right now studying for my degree. Then compliments: The lesson opened up new perspectives and ideas.”

Sarah Gumgumji, Looking Up (in progress)

Ed shares many well-articulated observations: Compliments to Sarah for sharing her translation of an Arabic poet's beautiful words. Her exquisite drawing eloquently expresses the sentiment of the poem.

Compliments to Vera for her short animation, which revealed the abstract elements in her piece when turned upside down.

Vera Tineo, Looking Up, animated drawing

Compliments to Marilyn for her naturalistic depiction of the ginkgo tree and her beautifully drawn ginkgo leaf, instantly recognizable with all of its symbolic properties.

Marilyn August, Looking Up, (in progress)

Compliments to Abby for her fantastic rendition of the inside view looking up inside the Louvre's iconic I. M. Pei glass pyramid.

Abby Johnson, Looking Up

Compliments to Maraya for her mysterious drawing of memories of her earlier years in Lubbock, Texas."

Maraya Lopez, Looking Up

Maraya made astute artistic comparisons to works created in the session:

Ed Rath, Skylight to Giovanni di Paolo, The Creation of the World and the Expulsion from Paradise, 1445:

Vera Tineo, Looking Up to Sigmar Polke, Alice im Wunderland, 1971

Sarah Gumgumji, Looking Up to Etel Adnan, Journey to Mount Tamalpais (detail), 2008

While both Madison and Pat rushed in from other classes and joined a little late, they managed to get some remarkable drawing done in a short time with a similar approach evoking many personally relevant scenes:

Madison Mack, Looking Up (in progress)

Papt Larash, Looking Up (in progress)

Trees, the natural environment with depiction of multiple time of day figure in piece by Nayarit and Jenn.

Nayarit Tineo, Looking Up

Jenn Dodson, Looking Up (in progress)

Urban nature in my little back yard, and hula hoops are featured in my work.

Meridith McNeal, Looking Up

We concur with Ed who offers "compliments to Jenn for creating this lesson, which featured the beautiful ceiling tondo of Andrea Mantegna.”


Teaching Artist Fatima Traore’s lesson on the healing powers found in nature continued with 4th and 5th graders participating in ART YARD Art Matters at the Brooklyn New School - but with a twist.

Students were asked to think about animals who heal us …. or themselves. Vincent thought of an octopus who can grow back a tentacle and heal itself; Bryanna drew a fox after having learned that foxes (like many other animals) have healing powers in their saliva thus the continuous licking of a wound.

Several students collaborated to think of and create magic powers - higher than nature’s healing powers - and worked together to create one large piece.

Magical Healing Powers

Magical Healing Powers

It was also sort of a “make up” day for students to complete unfinished projects - mostly the PEOPLE who heal pieces. The materials of choice were the watercolor pencils and water brush pens. Students were given carte blanche to use whichever materials they’d like.

At the end of this week’s lesson, Henry very politely and eloquently thanked Dennis and told him how much he enjoyed our classes.

We continue at the Brooklyn New School next week with a new group of students.


Teaching Artist Candy Heiland has begun the next cycle of ART YARD Advanced Studio in-person at BWAC in which participants will use own sketchbooks as a working tool for long-haul idea development leading to finished art pieces. We rearranged the furniture in our studio with several comfortable couches and chairs to view images of Candy’s process from “thumbnail” to finished piece.

Candy shared a stack of public domain images for the group to use as fodder for drawing. While others looked to the room around or images they are working with in their studio work.

Candy also projected the work Jeanne Mammen for inspiration.

Jeanne Mammen, She Represents, 1927

During critique we were interested to hear how artists varied in their approach and mindset. We loved seeing how Ed incorporated the bleed-through of the ink to the image on the following page!

Ed Rath, Thumbnail Sketches p1

Ed Rath, Thumbnail Sketches p2

Ed Rath, Thumbnail Sketches p3

Ijenna Duruaku, Thumbnail Sketch

Vera Tineo, Thumbnail Sketch

Naya Jackson, Thumbnail Sketch

Candy Heiland, Thumbnail Sketch

Abby Johnson, Thumbnail Sketch

Nayarit Tineo, Thumbnail Sketch

We also celebrated Vera’s birthday!