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Most inhabited places have evidence of their past visible to an observant viewer. On my Brooklyn block there are a couple of hitching posts for horses that tell of a time when the street was lined with carriage houses. We live with ghosts of the past and often bemoan the tidal waves of gentrification. This phenomenon, no stranger in Red Hook, served as the inspiration for Teaching Artist Richard Estrin’s lesson deconstruct/rebuild and the morning discussion was spirited!

Richard explained that we would be creating layered drawings using three distinct methods and materials. First line drawing from observation in pencil, followed by a loose atmospheric depiction working with long sticks which extended our reach by at least two feet and forced us to move and think in a different manner. Finished off with a blind contour of the same view done in metallic marker.

As inspiration for this project Richard introduced the class to the work of Ethiopian born Julie Mehretu and Swiss artist Alberto Giocometti (1901-1966).

Painting by Julie Mehretu

Painging by Alberto Giocometti

With paper clipped to our drawing boards (generously donated by Tim Metzger) and pencils we set out to the intersection of Dikeman and Conover Streets. Students selected a vantage point then used pencils to draw the scene aiming to depict elements indicative of transformation – such as the cobbled stones under a parked contemporary car or an old wooden fence adjacent to new construction.

We went back to the gallery for lunch and ice cream then we had some location decisions to make. The weather forecast looked rather to wet to continue outside. However Mildred had some visitors coming to see the exhibition at Kentler and we wanted to make sure that her work could be clearly seen and appreciated. Thus we hatched a plan B that turned out to far surpass our expectations.

Right next door to Kentler is a fantastic shop Wet Whistle Wines, earlier in the week when I stopped in after class I jokingly asked owner Cory Hill if he would be willing to let the ART YARD Summer Session draw in the visually complex and well air-conditioned shop. He said sure and we got a chuckle out of it (as he helped me picked out a cold white to go with dinner.).

Plan B? Ask Cory if he REALLY wouldn’t mind an hour long invasion of artists. Graciously the invitation stood. And boy-oh-boy what a complex and interesting place to draw these three-part complexly layered pieces.

We returned to the gallery for a little more working time on the morning pieces and/or to try the stick drawing method using ink.

Followed by clean-up and final critique. ¡Ay, caramba! I finally remembered to take photos of the work at the end of the day but the battery on my camera ran out of juice.

I suggested to everyone that this weekend while they are out and about they should try look at the world around them envisioning how they would depict the scenery employing some of the new methods and techniques they have learned in the past two weeks. If you are the sketch book toting type – take it a step farther and give it a try!

Hope everyone has a great weekend,

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