top of page

AYB Awareness!

Updated: May 4

We have an exciting update! Liv, Dede, Aria and I are collaborating as AYB Awareness with the goal to promote our programs.


Liv posted a video on TikTok about Advanced Studio sessions on Friday, in one day it has had 25.8k views, over 2000 NYC viewers saved the video, and we had over 250 emails from people wanting to join our classes!!


To accommodate the many interested folks, we are changing our Advanced Studio RSVP procedure. Everyone will now sign up to participate in Advanced Studio sessions through the home page of the AYB website each Sunday evening. Registration is first come first serve, and we keep a waiting list for last minute availability. We will let you know class topics, teaching artists and materials/techniques we will explore each week.


This is very exciting and there will be more AYB Awareness campaigns to follow.



This week in ART YARD BKLYN Advanced Studio on zoom we learned how artists are reckoning with America’s past by memorializing tragic events and creating space to heal with Maraya Lopez.

Maraya carefully summarizes: “Up to this point in time, America’s past has been erased in history books and in schools. Why is that? Today, artists and writers work hard to rebuild America’s hard to look at, but true legacy. By doing so, they contribute to society’s reckoning of the past, healing in the present and progressing towards a more thoughtful future. After the lesson, the class embarked on creating a memorial piece dedicated to someone or something personal to them. They were encouraged to think in terms of universal issues, such as environmental concerns or something intimate to them.

My lesson was inspired by contemporary artist, Maya Lin’s, What is Missing project. As well as The Legacy Museum and Legacy sites created by the Equal Justice Initiative in Montgomery Alabama. I briefly spoke about the first memorial I encountered as a child and the impact it made on me, that being the Buddy Holly memorial in Lubbock, Texas.

Maya Lin, What is Missing?

Side note: I was apprehensive when putting together this week’s lesson because tragic events and the process of mourning and feelings related to mourning are issues we are just not comfortable dealing with as people. However, I think it is important for us to find space, both physical and mental to discuss and contemplate all these things.  Maya Lin and the Equal Justice Initiative are creating such spaces. What is your role in creating a more thoughtful society?


The work: I was taken by the dialogue that came about from the lesson and the intimate and universal aspects of the work made.


Ed’s story and depiction of Lonesome George was a sweet tale, new to many of us, of an actual tortoise whose family lineage may survive to this day. Ed’s memorialization of a seemingly insignificant tortoise was a great lesson on who or what is worth memorializing and that all lives, no matter how small, are significant.


Ed Rath, What is Missing?

Karla’s piece is reminiscent of the masses of deceased children in Gaza, wrapped in white sheets.


Karla adds: “My concept was developed around an emptied photo album I picked up at a thrift store.  The corners that held the photos were the only things remaining on the pages.  Some were there, some missing.  It made me wonder who and what were pictured when photos held their places in those after page of recorded personal stories!  It seemed sad and lonely and barren.  I decide to fill those voids with placeholders - some whole, some incomplete to symbolize how things or persons that once existed in a photo may no longer be living or held in the same context.  They entire composition then becomes a very scattered pattern of how life changes rather than an organized or perfect record...memories leave the page to reside elsewhere.

Karla Prickett, What is Missing?

Marilyn’s collage looks like a silent, spiritual protest, void of people. The golden foil sun in the center illuminates hope amongst all the things our world is losing.

Marilyn August, What is Missing?

Jane’s moody watercolor memorializes three close friends who have died. The dark, washed clouds suggest Édouard Manet’s, “The Funeral.”

Jane Huntington, What is Missing? l & ll

Édouard Manet, “The Funeral”, 1867-1870

Meridith’s delicate watercolor of wisteria and a lone bumble bee memorializes global warming and death row.


Meridith McNeal, What is Missing?

My (Maraya) video juxtaposes a news image of the war on Gaza with a narrative about Old RIP, the infamous horned toad from Eastland, TX.


Maraya Lopez, What is Missing?

Old Rip

On Tuesday in AYB Advanced Studio in person in our studio at BWAC we continued our lesson cycle in portraiture with monochrome acrylic paint on canvas panels with Evelyn Beliveau.

Evelyn gives demo on portrait painting from observation

Evelyn sums up: “Having discussed last week some rules of thumb for the size and placement of facial features with respect to the head, we now turned our attention to light and dark—particularly, the planes of the face that catch the light and those that are shadowed when a head is lit from above. 

Portraits by Johannes Vermeer, Thomas Eakins, Édouard Manet, Jordan Casteel, and Lynette Yiadom-Boakye


While looking at historical and contemporary examples (Johannes Vermeer, Thomas Eakins, Édouard Manet, Jordan Casteel, and Lynette Yiadom-Boakye), we noted that the upward-facing planes of the forehead, upper eyelid, lower eyelid, cheekbones, nose, lower lip, and chin tend to be lighter in value, while the downward-facing surfaces beneath the brow, beneath the eye, the underside of the nose, the top lip, beneath the lower lip, and beneath the chin tend to be cast in shadow. Like the “map” of the face we used last week in pencil drawings, these new rules of thumb can be a starting point for looking. With a heroic ladder climb by Kevin, we positioned a strong light above the head of our model, Mildred, so that these light-dark relationships would stand out.


We discussed the following quote by Manet:


“In a face, look for the main light and the main shadow;

the rest will come naturally — it’s often not important.”


In this spirit, I advised participants to allow the first layers of paint to be loose and messy, capturing the major shapes of light and dark, then to build up detail gradually. 


I demonstrated an approach to painting with just two paint colors, burnt umber and white. I began with a diluted wash of burnt umber, creating a warm midtone across the canvas surface. Then, I used the brush to lightly indicate the upper, lower, left, and right bounds of the head. From there, I blocked in shadows with broad sweeps of the brush in burnt umber, and finally began to draw forth the highlights using a pale gray.

Evelyn Beliveau, Portrait of Mildred l & ll

Mildred did an excellent job modeling for the class, and received many compliments on her stillness, patience, and skill at finding the exact same position after a break. In turn, the participants found a deep level of focus. A range of approaches was visible in the finished pieces.


In Jane’s painting, forms are created by a thick buildup of paint strokes. Contrasting values blend and marble in the face, with features coalescing as if from clay. Wonderfully gestural passages indicate Mildred’s shirt.

Jane Huntington, Portrait of Mildred

Molly’s piece displays the portrait drawing skills she developed last week in the well-observed placement of features within the head. She makes use of the warm wash of brown underlying the face, background, and shirt to unify the painting; details like the jewelry, scarf, and highlights within the eyes are picked out in delicate strokes of white.

Molly Willis, Portrait of Mildred

Ed’s piece shows Mildred sitting serenely at the center of a cocoon of darkness, in a three-quarter view because of his vantage point further away from her. Volumes are modeled with washes of brown and ribbons of white highlight; the facial features and folds of the shirt are indicated with fine, calligraphic lines of dark brown.


Ed Rath, Portrait of Mildred

Abriel’s piece exhibits solidity of form and intensity of expression. The features are strongly modeled with a thicket of brushstrokes of brown and middle gray, with highlights flickering through the expressive background, forehead, cheeks, and neck.

Abriel Gardener, Portrait of Mildred

Kevin pushed through his frustration with the medium to create a beautifully rendered head in light and dark. The volume of forms is achieved with a combination of thick light and dark brushwork and areas where the underlying wash is allowed to show through. Layers of brushstrokes winding around the nose, lips, chin, and side of the face lend the piece a strong presence.

Kevin Anderson, Portrait of Mildred

Ariel zoomed in on the head to create an effect of both intimate observation and monumental portrayal. Forms are primarily built from washes of warm brown, from the wash underlying the face and background to the delicate shadows wrapping around the side of the face and neck. Judiciously placed highlights in pale gray and white indicate light falling on the temple, cheekbone, nose, ear, and lip.

Ariel Abdullah, Portrait of Mildred

Sigrid’s piece was unique in the class in its use of the profile view. She paints with surety and subtlety, making great use of soft middle grays and blending to suggest curving forms. The buildup of paint in both face and background emphasizes the contour of the profile.

Sigrid Dolan, Portrait of Mildred

Wednesday at ART YARD Art Matters at PS 17, we jumped back into our Warhol-inspired lesson with Evelyn Beliveau. Evelyn describes the session: “We worked with the Grade 7, Grade 6, and Grade 1 classes, and were sad to miss our Grade 4 class due to testing this week. Everyone is progressing well in the early stages of this project, and each of these classes is approaching a big next step.


Grades 7 and 6 are working on observational contour drawings of objects they find around the classroom. In homage to Warhol, we are shining a spotlight on ordinary, everyday objects that may not otherwise be noticed in detail. Each student will complete four drawings, which will be mounted and displayed in a grid. Many students completed all four drawings today; others are close to this point, and a few students even created up to six drawings! Next week, we will learn how to use watercolor paint to emulate Warhol’s signature flat, advertising-like aesthetic.


Grade 1 students are creating collages inspired by Warhol’s Flowers series. We are using stencils and an array of brightly colored papers to explore repetition and variation in the style of the iconic Flowers screenprints. Many students created stencils, traced, and cut out flowers last week, while others were new to the lesson and needed to get up to speed on the process. Their friends were happy to lead the way. Students discussed safe scissor use, celebrated new flower designs, and carefully selected just the right combination of colors. Just about every student will be ready next week to dive into gluing their flowers onto colored backgrounds.


Dennis writes: "The wall in the schoolyard at PS 17, our partnership school in Jersey City, has been scraped, cleaned, and primed and is ready for our mural.  Thanks go to Livio and Nicole for their expert follow up.” 


Students in our afterschool program are finishing up their designs (this week they added color with their choice of materials - but most chose the brush tipped markers) and Teaching Artist Gia Guttierez will review and create a composite for Principal Brower's approval.  Then (as long as Mother Nature complies), the mural painting will begin.”




Today at ART YARD Art Matters at PS 6 Dennis, Evelyn and interns Gabby and Evelyn were back at work with these talented elementary school aged children!


Evelyn recounts: “This week at PS 6, I conducted Week 2 of a lesson inspired by the Realist movement, alongside Dennis, Gaby, and Evelyn Gabriela! Our Grade 2, Grade 3, and Grade 4 classes enthusiastically dove back into the project.


Last week, we discussed the motivations of the Realist painters and how they centered depictions of regular, everyday people and scenes in their art. With this idea in mind, students in each class thought of people they see in day-to-day life—from friends and family members to teachers, pizza deliverers, dog-walkers, and more—and made detailed pencil drawings depicting those people in houses, stadiums, stores, parks and beaches, or city streets. Some students finished up these drawings today, while others were ready to get started right away with the next stage of the project: watercolor paint!

I demonstrated painting techniques:

  • After wetting the brush, dab it on a paper towel so that the paint flows but doesn’t soak through the paper.

  • Use just the tip of the brush and make small, slow, careful brushstrokes in order to follow the underdrawing. This is also useful for subtle blending of colors.

  • Let one area dry before painting the area next to it to avoid muddying colors.


Students took this advice to heart and worked slowly and precisely, with brilliant results. Many Grade 2 students are nearly finished with their paintings, and Grades 3 and 4 made great progress as well. It’s exciting to see these student’s memories come to life in lush color!



Other Art News


We are so proud of ART YARD Artist Sarah Gumgumji who has completed her masters in Art Therapy at SVA!!! Marie Roberts attended the graduation celebration this morning and sends the following images and caption: “AYB Teaching Artist Sarah Gumgumji presented "Navigating the Complexities of Parental Separation: Youth Experiencing Suicidal Thoughts" for her MPS Art Therapy degree from SVA.”

ART YARD Artist Sarah Gumgumji at her SVA Graduation Ceremony


Congratulations to ART YARD Teaching Artist Jodie Lyn-Kee-Chow who will be in conversation at James Gallery in  Weaving Solidarity on Tuesday May 7th, 7-8pm.


Jodie invites us to join her and artist Agnes Christina for a conversation moderated by Humanities Alliance Fellow Joned Suryatmoko (Ph.D. Program in Theatre and Performance) as part of the exhibition Textures of Feminist Perseverance at the James Gallery CUNY Graduate Center.


This past week Iviva, Evelyn, Saidou and I ventured out for in person art viewing! At BravinLee offsite, at 207 Front Street in South Street Seaport, we saw The Golden Thread: A Fiber Art Exhibition.


The huge rambling pop up space carved out of 2 many-times-revamped eighteenth century brick row houses. Replete with strange interconnected passages, oddly placed stairways and even a huge wooden wheel from the industrial past, it was an eclectic viewing experience. With 61 artists and over 100 artworks there was something for everyone. My favorites include Br00klynBetty a life-sized rug-hook style embroidery by Kandy G. Lopez, the tiny detailed embroidered scenes by Ray Matterson made from fibers pulled from clothing items (a testament to his ingenuity and fortitude making art while incarcerated), a series of sewn sculptures by David B. Smith, a series of felted animal trophies by Sarah George, and It Reminds Me of You an enchanted-forest-like installation by Jelia Gueramian. (shown in that order below).


From there we carried on to visit the Brooklyn studio of Allie Wilkinson, a good friend of Evelyn’s. Allie’s ink paintings on mylar are beautifully done. The piece taped up to the window appeared to glow like a stained glass!

Allie Wilkinson (left), Evelyn and Saidou (right) at Allie’s studio



Iviva and I also visited Blank Forms Gallery at 468 Grand Avenue in Brooklyn to see Pretty Bird Peer Speak Sow Peculiar a solo exhibition by Candace Hill-Montgomery. The domestic apartment style space is the perfect scale to view these well done weavings and mixed media pieces. The work is beautifully textured and contains mysterious narrative quality.

Installation views of Pretty Bird Peer Speak Sow Peculiar by Candace Hill-Montgomery



You are encouraged to apply to participate in the second annual Valley Cottage Library’s Banned Book Trading Card Project. Selected artists will have work included in the deck of trading cards and included in an exhibition at the library in September 2024!


Meridith McNeal, A Wrinkle In Time (For Banned Books Trading Card Project), 2024, watercolor on paper, 19x11”


184 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All


bottom of page