A little joy is a wonderful "learning outcome"


Memorial Day is an American holiday honoring the people who died while serving in the U.S. military. Originally known as Decoration Day, it originated in the years following the Civil War and became an official federal holiday in 1971. Many Americans observe Memorial Day by visiting cemeteries or memorials, holding family gatherings and participating in parades. This year presented a challenge to participate in those memorial rituals.

ART YARD Advanced Studio artists honored the day through an investigation of artworks which delve into the subject of battle, warriors, war, memory and remembrance.

We viewed and discussed 10 artworks including paintings, drawings, posters and photographs created over a 200 year span. Each artist selected one of the artworks to use as an inspiration for three drawings. We began with a quickly drawn sketch of the composition, then zoomed in on a detail of the work we found particularly moving looking closely at the stylistic characteristics of the artwork. The final drawing was either a larger detail or a depiction of the full composition.

I will intersperse images of the work between the images and information of the works we viewed, discussed and used for inspiration. More of our drawings are on the Gallery page.


    Commemorating the July Revolution of 1830, which toppled King Charles X of France. A woman of the people with personifying the concept of Liberty leads a varied group of people forward over a barricade and the bodies of the fallen, holding the flag of the French Revolution which again became France's national flag after these events – in one hand and brandishing a bayonetted musket with the other.
Eugène Delacroix, Liberty Leading the People, 1830
Ed Rath, Detail Sketch from Liberty Leading the People, Advanced Studio Memorial Day
Ed Rath, Drawing after Liberty Leading the People, Advanced Studio Memorial Day

Indians of the Great Plains had a long tradition of chronicling their lives in pictures painted on buffalo and deer hides. Between 1865 and 1935, warrior artists adapted this tradition to the new materials at hand: the blank pages of ledger books obtained from U.S. soldiers, traders, missionaries, and reservation employees. Using colored pencils, crayons, and watercolor paints, Plains Indian men illustrated the battles they fought against the U.S. Army and other Indian tribes.
Black Horse Ledger, Soldiers Charging, 1877

Blaze Sirius-El, Drawing after Soldiers Charging, Advanced Studio, Memorial Day

Portrait of a Crow warrior. The three feathers in his hair represent three wounds he received at the battle of Little Bighorn. The red rings painted on his arms represent the number of Sioux he has killed, and the yellow rings represent the number of Chey.
E. A. (Elbridge Ayer) Burbank, White Swan (Crow), 1897

Vera Tineo, Drawing after White Swan (Crow), Advanced Studio Memorial Day
Marilyn August, Detail sketch after White Swan (Crow), Advanced Studio Memorial Day
Felix Plaza, Drawing after White Swan (Crow), Advanced Studio Memorial Day

The Voluntary Aid Detachment (VAD) was founded in 1909 with the help of the Red Cross and Order of St. John. By 1914 there were over 2,500 Voluntary Aid Detachments in Britain. Of the 74,000 volunteers in 1914, two-thirds were women and girls. Female volunteers over the age of twenty-three and with more than three months’ hospital experience were accepted for overseas service.
WWI recruitment poster

Kevin Anderson, Detail Drawing after WWI recruitment poster, Advanced Studio Memorial Day
Sigrid Dolan, Drawing after WWI recruitment poster, Advanced Studio Memorial Day
Picasso’s painting is based on the events of April 27, 1937, when Hitler’s powerful German air force, acting in support of Franco, bombed the village of Guernica in northern Spain, a city of no strategic military value. It was history’s first aerial saturation bombing of a civilian population. Picasso, sympathetic to the Republican government of his homeland, was horrified by the reports of devastation and death. Guernica is his visual response, his memorial to the brutal massacre. After hundreds of sketches, the painting was done in less than a month.
Pablo Picasso, Guernica, 1937
Marie Roberts, Drawing after Guernica, Advanced Studio Memorial Day

Loot - German loot stored at Schlosskirche Ellingen (Ellingen (Bavaria), Germany) found by troops of the U.S. Third Army.
US Army officer or employee, Looted Art (Archival Photograph), 1945
Fatima Traore, Detail Drawing after Looted Art, Advanced Studio Memorial Day
Jeffrey McCreedy, Drawing after Looted Art, Advanced Studio Memorial Day

Through a labor-intensive, nineteenth-century photographic process, she evokes the dark atmosphere of the Civil War that lies buried in the contemporary landscape. Her photographs collapse past and present, as the artist, in her own words, aims to “help people see the landscape in a different way.”
Sally Mann, Battlefields, Chancellorsville (Rever’s Turn), 2002

Jane Huntington, Drawing after Battlefields, Chancellorsville (Rever’s Turn), Advanced Studio Memorial Day
Wayne Gross, Drawing after Battlefields, Chancellorsville (Rever’s Turn), Advanced Studio Memorial Day
Meridith McNeal, Painting after Battlefields, Chancellorsville (Rever’s Turn), Advanced Studio Memorial Day
Sarah Gumgumji, Drawing after Battlefields, Chancellorsville (Rever’s Turn), Advanced Studio Memorial Day

During our critique we noticed that the longer time afforded the final drawing is evident in the level of accomplishment. All artists received heartfelt compliments on their work and we noticed that the structure of the lesson really brought out clearly how we are all diving into our own idiosyncratic personal art styles.

I was enjoying the sunshine earlier this week, sitting in my little garden, looking at the roses starting to bloom, watching a large bee careen from flower to flower when I thought of a good theme for this week’s CREATE thread – Seasonal Change.


Even while looking out my windows I am noticing the change. There is far more bright green foliage near my window thus creating a shorter vista. Even my cats Rik and Lola are less inclined to lounge in their plush beds and more likely to sprawl on a thin carpet near the open window (with double window screens for safety, of course.).


Rik and Lola enjoying the foliage

Here are some of our images exploring the theme:


Evelyn Beliveau, Brooklyn Rooftop View, May 2020

Fatima Traore, Quarantine Walk, May 2020
Pamela Talese, Straw Hats and Fans, May 2020
Quentin Williamston, Flowering Trees Clinton Hill, Brooklyn, May 2020
Vera Tineo, Walk in Forest Park Queens, May 2020
Catherine de Zagon, Abruzzo View, May 2020

Please add your observations and pictures, videos and thoughts on the topic, or email me (frida@artyardbklyn.org) and I will add them to the thread for you.


I read an interesting piece by Cathy Davidson titled The Single Most Essential Requirement in Designing a Fall Online Course (May 11, 2020). There were several salient points that resonated with me. I particularly appreciate her thoughts on involving students in decision making and course development. But my favorite lines are these:


“And we all know artists and writers and performers putting their own creativity out there online for free. Students as consumers and makers of all the arts provide an ideal antidote to isolation and anxiety. A little joy is a wonderful "learning outcome" to build into a class design.”


And with THAT in mind...




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