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Breathing room around the edges

Updated: Jan 29

This week in AYB Advanced Studio on zoom ART YARD Artist Vee Tineo invited us to think about our studio is like physically as they asked us to look into our own studio practice and how we approach the work we do.


Vee summarizes: "Our primary objective was to delve into the space we inhabit, beginning with an exploration of the diverse artist studios featured on This platform showcases a range of studio environments.

Vera presenting on zoom

Inspired by this archive, entering my master's program emphasized the privilege of having an extraordinary studio. I am driven to capture the essence of our studio spaces and their creative possibilities.


Meridith skillfully portrayed her studio through a unique perspective, offering a comprehensive view that invites one to immerse themselves in the space.

Meridith McNeal, Studio View

Ed revisited his studio at a different time, revealing a time before walls were erected and additional paintings emerged—a glimpse into the potential of a studio space.


Ed Rath, Studio View

Marilyn illustrated her immediate surroundings, turning her dining room table into a studio. Transforming constraints into artistic opportunities, she crafted an impressive still life, placing a laptop at the composition's center as a temporal reference.

Marilyn August, Studio View

Karla composed her space around two easels, akin to Ed's approach, capturing the evolving nature of the studio—from pristine beginnings to creative chaos.


Karla Prickett, Studio View

Abriel translated their bedspread into a vibrant pastel masterpiece, allowing viewers to trace the graceful movement of strokes. For them, the room serves as a dedicated space for artistic expression.

Abriel Gardener, Studio View

Madison worked from her “studio” in a local coffee shop in Buffalo, NY. Which closed early for winter hours.  Madison depicted her studio in her bedroom at home.

Madison Mack, Studio View

 Vee depicted their studio space at Manhattan Graphics where they are a studio monitor. We liked seeing Vee’s work in progress as part of the image!

Vee Tineo, Studio View

This week, in ART YARD Advanced Studio in person at our studio at BWAC we kicked off the first lesson of a three-week cycle lead by ART YARD Artist Evelyn Beliveau focused on achieving a range of effects in still life. Participants chose a set of objects to work from, and they’ll stick with those same objects for all three lessons—changing other aspects to make each week’s painting as different as possible from the others.

Evelyn explains: “First, we viewed some art-historical inspiration, focusing on different choices artists might make, such as the color of the background, zooming in on the objects or zooming out to show the context of the room, looking at the objects from above or from the side, centering or decentering the objects in the composition, and cropping the objects or giving them breathing room around the edges of the composition. 

Then, I demonstrated “choreographing” the objects: moving them close together, farther apart, placing one behind the other… treating them like characters in a drama. We noted the drastic changes that come from standing above the objects or bending down to view them from across the table surface, and switching in a brightly colored paper underneath the setup.


Each participant chose a set of objects, using the varied mix of objects I brought, lovely ceramics from Ed’s fantastic collection of still life objects, or personal objects. After heartily enjoying Meridith’s pasta and soup and some companionable chatter, everyone dove into painting. We used acrylic paints on 8”x10” canvases, a medium that was familiar to some and more daunting for others. I provided suggestions about priming the surface with a bright color to hit the ground running, keeping it simple with a highlight, midtone, and shadow at first, and mixing a modest amount of water into the paint to let it flow more easily across the surface.

Evelyn Beliveau, Still Life

Ed Rath, Still Life

With Christine, the topic of pentimenti came up when she realized the placement of her objects wasn’t lining up. pentimento: “the presence or emergence of earlier images, forms, or strokes that have been changed and painted over.”

Christine Willis, Still Life


We talked about the power of acrylic paint to allow changes in composition, completely covering what had been there before. Christine went on to effectively move one of the objects in her painting to a different position, with its previous location overtaken by the beautiful impasto texture of the brickwork where she’d set up her still life.


The finished paintings made a striking group as we lined them up for critique. Vivid colors stood out across the board, from the luminous yellow in Alexa and Amelia’s paintings to Molly’s deep, moody purple.

Alexa Bren, Still Life

Amelia Haddad, Still Life

Molly Willis, Still Life

Brushwork ranged from Ed’s meticulous yet painterly working style, to a watercolor effect in Ajani’s magical closeup, to Vee’s emphatic, gestural marks.

Ajani Russell, Still Life

Vee Tineo, Still Life

Attention to texture and material stood out in Christine’s, Dakota’s, and Amelia’s paintings (respectively: brick, metal, and ceramic and plastic), and Sigrid’s painting shows a beautiful modeling of light and shade.

Dakota Jones, Still Life

Sigrid Dolan, Still Life

Delphine’s vivid, atmospheric piece functions on an abstract level as a field of blues and greens as well as a still life. During critique, participants admired Molly’s unique top-down vantage point and incision of the Apple logo (the only artist to use reductive as well as additive methods this week); Dakota’s stunning double shadow and atmospheric pink surface; my moody color use; and Alexa’s long, dramatic shadows and solidly volumetric forms.

Delphine painting still life

I’m excited to see how returning participants will change their approach as they reunite with their objects for Round 2!”


Managing Director Dennis Buonagura attended the first of many informative events hosted by Brooklyn Org on Thursday known as their Nonprofit Leader Salons. About 20 people attended - all being founders and/or executive directors of not for profit organizations serving Brooklyn communities with budgets under $2 million. Only a few groups were arts organizations with others being healthcare provider guides, refugee translation and education services, and mentorship programs for justice-impacted individuals.  Most everyone in attendance discussed their frustrations with applying for and being approved for grants and overall ‘burn-out’ with raising money. Options were discussed and connections were made. Brooklyn Org’s offices are on Dean Street - and the conference room had this fantastic mural created by Groundswell NYC. Also - bagels and tamales were on hand during the breaks …. Dennis was happy about that.

Groundswell Mural at Brooklyn Org. Photo by Dennis Buonagura


Other Art News


At AYB we like making links and comparisons when looking at artwork. It not only gives us fodder for intellectually engaging conversation but it allows us to see our work as artists within a larger continuum.  I have been reading Lauren Elkin’s Art Monsters: Unruly Bodies in Feminist Art (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, November 2023). This erudite, well researched, provocative and assertive book delves into artists, writers, critics, thinkers and those who slide between labels. A subject dear to my heart, I am truly enjoying this book, in fact, I can see it becoming a must for class reading lists. (Or that reading list for artists that my friend Brece Honeycutt and I keep considering!)

When I read Elkin’s take on performative painter Maria Lassnig, I could not help but think of Vee’s work, particularly in how they address issues of the body while combining performative work with more traditional painting, ceramic and printmaking.  Likewise, Ajani and I were having a great conversation about Rebecca Horn’s Finger Gloves, which I compared to Ajani’s spectacular manicure. We agree that Horn’s work is deeply inspiring, as such I was thrilled but not surprised to find her on the pages of Art Monsters.

Art Monsters book cover; Rebecca Horn, Finger Gloves, 1972; and Ajani’s nails (felted sculpture in third image by Abriel Gardener.)


Congratulations to ART YARD Artist Fatima Traore on her solo exhibition Vivid Lives at Rio III Gallery, 898 St. Nicholas Avenue, NY, NY.  We will work on a plan to make an ART YARD trip to go view the exhibition. Stay tuned for details!


ART YARD Artist Candy Heiland shares her recently completed painting And when I became a man:

Candy Heiland, And when I became a man, 2024

ART YARD Artist Vee Tineo shares their recently completed sculpture Broken Liberty:

Vee Tineo, Broken Liberty, 2024

ART YARD Artist Delphine Levenson shares more work on her drawing in progress:

Delphine Levenson, work in progress, 2024


I (Meridith) just finished Brooklyn Egg Cream for my upcoming exhibition Fizz at the Brooklyn Seltzer Museum Hemlock St. Brooklyn, NY. I painted this one knowing that the artists' reception will take place on March 15, National Egg Cream Day!

Meridith McNeal, Brooklyn Egg Cream, 2024, watercolor on paper



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