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Developing skills we can reach to for inspiration

Updated: Dec 17, 2021

This week students participating in ART YARD Art Matters at the Brooklyn New School finished their pieces on healing the oceans - diptychs indicating a clean and happy life for sea creatures vs. their living in polluted waters.

List developed by the class

Using watercolor paints, pencils and some paint pens, the 2nd graders made smart decisions about which brushes to use to complete large spaces or tiny details - all with tremendous success.

Teaching Artist Fatima Traore hosted a well participated, lively, and spirited round of critique with tons of compliments about vibrant colors, beautiful interpretations of the colors of water, and very observant compares and contrasts (note: the rule was that neither part of a diptych could be compared or contrasted against each other!).


In ART YARD Advanced Studio on Zoom our lesson Surreal Realities was planned by Teaching Artist Aisha Tandiwe Bell with me pinch-hitting due to scheduling snafu.

We took inspiration from the work of Robert Gober on view at Matthew Marks Gallery, 522 West 22nd Street NYC in a solo exhibition "Shut up." No, You shut up." through January 29, 2022.

Robert Gober, Untitled 2021, Graphite on found drawing

We also looked at a short video overview about Surrealism. Aisha asked that we use the materials of our choice to create a surrealistic pairing of two items. Perhaps organic and inorganic, or seeming unrelated things, dreamed ideas also could provide fodder for the piece.

Nayarit, like Gober, worked with the human form in sort of unsettling way.

Nayarit Tineo, Surreal Realities, Two Brains

While Naya anthropomorphized a bright graphic collage of a banana by placing it in proximity to a Santa hat.

Naya Jackson, Surreal Realities, Santa Banana

Ed and Karla both employed a mixed-media shadow-box format.

Ed Rath, Surreal Realities, Ready Kilowatt Tea Party

Karla sends this glorious photograph and writes: “A little Kansas sunset from yesterday!!

Today we are having 80 mph winds and brown gray dusty sky. Limbs and trees falling! It’s Kansas!"

Karla Prickett, Kansas Sunset

Karla continues describing her thoughts, process and finished piece: "I really admire Joseph Cornell’s work. Last week’s lesson left his work in my mind. It seemed to pair well with this week’s lesson. I was intrigued with Robert Gober’s use of a mixture of materials in his box-like assemblages. The pieces where he worked on top of found drawings led me to an old drawing of an old stapler I did several years ago and a piece by a residency fiber artist from Minnesota which combines handmade paper with a metal object. Materials added: plastic numbers from old gas pumps, a cardboard shipping box, rusty paper clips. The printing on the section of cardboard box just happened to echo colors in the other selected objects.”

Karla Prickett, Surreal Realities

Pat made historical reference and played with scale by placing the Trojan Horse into her evocative table-top still-life.

Pat Larash, Surreal Realities

Zeke, Marilyn and I all played with scale in a surrealist manner.

Zeke Brokaw, Surreal Realities, Scissored Mountain

Marilyn August, Surreal Realities

Meridith McNeal, Surreal Realities

I adore the miraculous photo op which occurred when light refracted through the crystal hanging in my studio on the the piece in precisely the right place!

Meridith McNeal, Surreal Realities with Rainbow

Delphine in two excellent drawings with deep meaning.

Delphine Levenson, Surreal Realities, Time Shall Be Broken

Delphine Levenson, Surreal Realities, Political Strife

Vera in a mixed media installation, then captured on video (audio by Nayarit), which tackled profound content.


At ART YARD Advanced Studio in person at BWAC this was the final class of Teaching Artist Candy Heiland’s 4-part series investigating the use of a sketchbook to gather ideas for finished pieces. For this project we used images from our sketchbooks to create watercolors with pen and ink based on the techniques used by the German Expressionist artist, Jeanne Mammon.

Jeanne Mammon, Fortune Teller, 1928

Candy summarizes: “The most important part of this lesson has been to develop skills we can reach to for inspiration in times where we may feel less inspired…a fire-escape plan, of sorts. It’s a plan to heal ourselves, in advance of an actual art emergency.

Every week, the theme of healing arose in the form of how the classes progressed. As if summoned to the fore, we brought our crazy lives to the table of human interaction, to create together. In the course of 2 hours, we discussed our days, our process and challenges of working and mutually raised the energy. By critique, the session had transformed into a positive and uplifting experience. This happened every week and we all look forward to it!

Ed and Vera created 2 pieces each. Vera attached hers to make a panorama. Ed expounded on his initial idea and investigated a different composition.

Ed Rath, The Lonelies l & ll, work in progress

Vera Tineo, mixed media watercolor with collage, graphite and marker

In addition to the portrait from last week, Nayarit made a 3-dimesional piece, using words and cut-outs and a tiny city scape.

Nayarit Tineo, Portrait of Woman with Pink Hair

Nayarit Tineo, Love Will Last

Nayarit Tineo, Cityscape

Abby lightly layered the watercolors to create depth in the brickwork of her window and enhancing the darkness outside of the glass with purple.

Abrielle Johnson, Arched Window

Meridith created a lovey piece with a clock as a representation of her busy schedule (image to follow). Candy and Ijenna worked methodically and took their images home to complete.

Candy Heiland, Side Show Performers l & ll (in progress)

Ijenna Duruaku, work in progress

Robin who did a lovely piece last week, stayed home, grieving the loss of her precious dog Alex. She sent a page of her sketchbook with a portrait of her beloved pet.”

Robin Grant, In the Museum, and Portrait of Alex in sketchbook.

Candy finishes, "The most rewarding thing for me is to see each persons’ sketchbook pages filling with images. I myself am being inspired, as well, to draw in my own sketchbook every day!"


In other creative and seasonal pursuits:

Dennis reports in on celebrating the season in Brooklyn style: “The Dyker Heights Christmas lights display has become a huge attraction (well, it always really was - to Brooklynites!) - now with tour buses (yuck) and food trucks on every other block (again .. yuck). People come to Brooklyn from EVERYWHERE just to see these over-the-top displays with zillions of lights, giant Santas, many snow-persons and lots of plastic reindeer. Most houses now have music and light shows running - altho the pandemic has stopped the sightings of the real live Santa! Sounds crazy? Maybe - but it's a lot of fun and truly something to experience. Our friend Anna lives in Dyker Heights and it's our annual tradition to visit her at home, have dinner, see the lights, and go back home for hot chocolate and lots of cookies. If you hear a Brooklynite say "we're going to see the lights", you know they mean Dyker Heights.”



We hope that you will join us at a special festive ART YARD Advanced Studio in-person at BWAC On Tuesday December 21, 2021, 5:30-7:30pm.

BWAC (Brooklyn Waterfront Artists Coalition)

481 Van Brunt Street

Red Hook, Brooklyn

Saxophonist José Carlos Cruzata Revé will be playing for us as we draw inspired by the music and his performance.

Saxophonist José Carlos Cruzata Revé

Art supplies are provided. Please bring something delicious to eat or drink to share with the group. RSVP to!


Hope to see you on Tuesday!

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