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A Day on the Farm (in Red Hook!)

We spent most of our day creating art at Red Hook Farm located in Red Hook Houses West, 30 Wolcott Street, just down the street from Kentler.

This verdant working farm is impressive in many ways. The gardens are lush and very well-tended. The staff and AmeriCorps gardeners are welcoming and friendly, not to mention very hard working! It was the perfect setting to dive into Teaching Artist Iviva Olenick’s lesson in which students created observational drawings of the farm using Iviva’s hand-made plant based vegetable dyes.

Iviva describes her inspiration for this lesson: “Having worked on several urban farms over the past 3 years to grow indigo, a blue dye-producing plant, I have learned more about the social concerns of urban farms, and their role in addressing “food deserts” — neighborhoods without ready access to healthy, fresh produce. I’ve also experimented with making dyes and inks from many household vegetables, adding acids and bases to shift colors, and understanding how dyes work as paint versus as colorants for fabric.”

Of course, Iviva had introduced the materials and given a helpful demonstration before we left the gallery, so we knew there would be the usual challenges one faces with a new medium. The vegetable dyes are much paler in saturation than commercial watercolors. They also interact with each other inconsistently. Sometimes creating unexpected colors and textures. These quirks led to delicate and elegant finished pieces.

We held mid-day critique outside before our lunch break.

In addition to the vegetable dyes artists were given the option to add Pelican watercolor into their afternoon paintings. Each student found a fresh vantage point to depict. We were all surprised at how much more we appreciated the full range of color available in our commercially prepared paint sets.

We were pretty excited to meet one of the resident felines!

As the sky clouded over interns packed up supplies but everyone continued to paint until the first drops of rain fell. Then in an expedient manner students gathered their work and supplies for the fast walk back to Kentler.

We enjoyed our Ample Hills ice cream as we completed our second paintings. Everyone pitched in to clean up and focus on our end-of-the-day critique.

Another productive day learning new materials and methods!

I hope everyone has a wonderful weekend. I shall look forward to seeing you on Monday morning when we dive deeper into the concept of composition with Teaching Artist Jane Huntington.

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