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Charming cacophony

Updated: Feb 9

We are thrilled to be back at ART YARD Art Matters at PS 6, in Jersey City, where we received happy and warm welcomes.

PS 6 students seriously consider the work made in class

Managing Director Dennis Buonagura reports: "I went out to the school on Wednesday to check out our supply closet and assess what we might need in addition to what we have.  The gallery remains in tip-top shape thanks to the school's terrific staff and of course Mrs. Bracken who is our #1 gallery advocate!  

Throughout today's classes, about 5 students asked to join our docent program - which doesn't start until around early June. Wow - that program has made quite an impact on these students!  I'm happy about that.

As always, the teachers and administrative staff are gigantically supportive of our programs and are always happy to participate.  Off to a great start!"

Teaching Artist Evelyn Beliveau holds the class enthralled introducing their lesson

Evelyn describes the work of the day: "This week, we happily returned to PS 6 for the first of a three-week lesson cycle on aleatoric (depending on the throw of a dice or on chance; random) drawing. We had three wonderful classes, two 5th Grade and one 3rd Grade, who eagerly dove right into a lesson full of new vocab and methods. Dennis and I (Evelyn) were joined by Gabriela, who did a fantastic job as our intern—also readily diving in and lending a hand with materials, instructions, and individual assistance for students.

My goal for this lesson is to teach students about using chance operations as a tool for art-making—adding “Do Something Random” to AYB’s theme this year, “Do Something”—while also developing techniques for texture and shading. Each student will fill in a grid, using sequences of random actions to determine which shapes and shading techniques will be used, and then their individual pages will be joined together to create large-scale collaborative works.

In each class, we started by discussing two familiar ways to produce random outcomes: rolling a die and flipping a coin. We took a look at two artists from the 20th century who used chance in their work: John Cage and Ellsworth Kelly. Then, we discussed vocab words like hatching, cross-hatching, and stippling; horizontal, vertical, and diagonal; perpendicular and oblique; and gradient. Some of these words were familiar, and many were new—but students picked them up quickly!

Ellsworth Kelly, Sculpture for a Large Wall 

After establishing that we need a structure for our random actions in order to create an art piece, we introduced a step-by-step process for students to follow as they fill in each box of their grids. 3rd graders rolled dice to choose shapes, then flipped coins to decide whether to shade inside or outside the shape and whether to use hatching (a type of shading that uses parallel lines in one direction) or cross-hatching (two overlapping sets of hatch-marks in different directions). 5th graders had a slightly more complicated set of steps to follow, with options for different directions of hatching, perpendicular or oblique cross-hatching, stippling, and gradients from darkly shaded to lightly shaded areas. Students asked great questions when they were confused and ended up mastering the step-by-step process. This week, we used pencil and paper to try out the steps; next week, we’ll use markers to begin the final pieces.

It’s great to be back and see so many familiar and friendly faces! Dennis and I reminisced about last year’s classes, heading down to the AYB Gallery in the library to take a look at the installation from our Year of Planet Earth. As students take home last year’s pieces, we’ll soon be at work installing brand new art."


We began this week’s ART YARD Advanced Studio on zoom taught by ART YARD Artist Jane Huntington with a PowerPoint presentation of portraits by fellow ART YARD Artists for inspiration.


Portraits by Akash Wilmot, Elizabeth Morales, Jeffrey McCreedy, Dakota Jones, and Evelyn Beliveau


Jane sums up: “I explained the process of portrait drawing. I instructed the participants to forget about judging and having empathy for yourself during the process. As usual, the results were impressive.

As an example of the range of work on any given portrait, here is the photograph of Robert Mapplethorpe by George Dureau and our drawings (in the following order) by Meridith McNeal, Marilyn August, Kevin Anderson, Karla Prickett, Jane Huntington,  Ed Rath, and Eugenie Chao:

Some participants had a more experience drawing portraits, but many of us don’t draw from photographic reference regularly. The group found this lesson was really challenging.

The portraits we drew from include Georgia O’Keeffe by Alfred Stieglitz; Pig Pen by Catherine Opie, “Irish Child, County Clare” by Dorothea Lange, “Young Man Wearing Cap” by Dorothea Lange, Unknown man by Vivian Maier, “Damaged Child” by Sally Mann, Man wearing tank top unknown photographer, “Native American Indian Skokomish Woman” by Edward Curtis, Joan Collins PictureLux/The Hollywood Archive (in order below).

This was Marilyn’s first stab at portrait drawing. Her main concern was getting the expression, and her drawings really captured the subject with great empathy.

Marilyn August, Portraits

As promised, I (Jane) decided to be bolder and take risks with using an uncompromising medium. Focusing on investigating line and water-color skills with the eye on making decisive marks, I drew using Payne’s Grey.

Jane Huntington, Portraits

Ed focused on the contour in his wry portraits.

Ed Rath, Portraits

Kevin had some issues with his internet, but was able to use his technical structural skills to great effect by using graphite.

Kevin Anderson, Portraits

Meridith did individual water color paintings for her beautifully rendered portraits.

Meridith McNeal, Portraits

Karla, who usually works in collage, drew her pieces focusing on individual features that drew her to the subject-often the eyes, and other prominent identifiers, such as the man’s teeth in the Vivian Maier portrait and the cap and glasses in the Dorothea Lange portraits.

Karla Prickett, Portraits

Eugenie, a friend of Vee’s from their MFA program, is another artist new to portrait drawing, and drew using a combination of ink and pen. Her portraits were very expressive, capturing the whole face in most instances. Her pen work was impressive, and towards the end, she started using like pencil lines to guide her in her renderings to great effect." We enthusiastically welcome Eugenie to AYB!

Eugenie Chao, Portraits



On Tuesday, we concluded our Advanced Studio in person in our studio at BWAC cycle on still life painting taught by ART YARD Artist Evelyn Beliveau. Each participant returned to the objects they’d used in the preceding weeks, changing the setup and perspective one more time to complete their series. In honor of Wayne Kramer—recently deceased punk musician and a favorite of Ed’s—we soundtracked the session with his “charming cacophony,” and ended with another diverse group of paintings.


Sigrid gathering supplies

Evelyn summarizes: “Molly played with color this week, setting off her purple iPad against a brilliant field of yellow. With the rectangle of the iPad aligned with the rectangle of the canvas, her third painting connects back to her first painting—but here, she has zoomed out, with the objects clustered in the lower right corner of the composition. She received compliments on the three-dimensional quality of the hairclip and the subtle color of the shadows around the iPad.

Molly Willis, Still Life lll

While Meridith’s objects were not physically present this week, she was able to return to them by using a photo she’d taken in her home. We noted the different quality of painting from a reference vs. painting from life. Strikingly, the daylight flooding this week’s painting contrasts with the dimmer lamplight at BWAC, and the airy white setting and more even arrangement of objects create a sense of floating.

Meridith McNeal, Still Life ll

Sigrid used a three-tiered composition to evoke depth in space, the stereo (with its gleaming metal knobs elegantly portrayed) and open book flanking the small white dish at the front. She achieves a moody tone from the jostling of many colors with confident paint-handling, especially in the book and the Morandi-esque dish. During critique, she expressed that she felt able to let loose with color this week, in part freed by having had multiple chances to portray the same objects—I definitely felt this as well.

Sigrid Dolan, Still Life lll

Ed also discussed the benefits of returning to the same objects—getting to know the particularities of each object and which parts are difficult to draw. In this week’s painting, he zooms out to show even more of the context of the table and room, using a downward-facing perspective that launched a discussion of Japanese compositions with no horizon line and Bruegel’s use of a top-down perspective for social commentary. He uses blue paper (as opposed to preceding weeks’ orange and brown) to change the apparent color of each object from one painting to the next.

Ed Rath, Still Life lll

I (Evelyn) found this week’s painting to be very different from my previous two, attempting greater distance between foreground, middle, and background than I had before. I received compliments for straying away from objects’ local color, including the glimpse under the music stand on which I placed my objects, and getting a sense of the quality of light in the room.


Evelyn Beliveau, Still Life lll

I was delighted that participants found it fruitful to work with the same objects over time, yielding series that trace their experiments and discoveries.”

Critique with paintings lined up by week


Other Art News


ART YARD Artist Jacob Rath, currently studying at Centro Internazionale Studi Montessoriani in Bergamo Italy, writes: “I visited Venice this weekend, to see the beginning of Carnival celebrations. Venice is beautiful, and it was great to go at this time. I got to see tons of people dressed up in costumes. I enjoyed seeing street musicians perform. One band, Porte 'perte caught my attention. This band had one member dressed as a priest, and another wearing a pig mask. Here's a painting I made while listening to them perform:

Jacob Rath, Carnival Venice 2024

I (Jacob) also got dressed up for Carnival. I made my own gold mask (because I wanted one that could fit over my glasses). I gussied up my jacket by sewing on a red lace, and adding some fancier buttons. I especially appreciated the mermaid costume, she reminded me of Coney Island." 

Musicians in Venice, Jacob in his mask, Mermaid, photos by Jacob Rath



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