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Love - Looking Out

Updated: Feb 26, 2022

Sleet and freezing rain did not keep Managing Director Dennis Buonagura and Teaching Artist Evelyn Beliveau from their trek to New Jersey! At ART YARD Art Matters at PS 6, we continued our lesson in self portraits that show emotion while wearing masks. Students studied paintings by Lucien Freud for inspiration. Dennis and Evelyn were thrilled that Teaching Artist Sarah Gumgumji made a surprise visit and participated in all classes.

Lucien Freud, Self Portrait, 1963

Evelyn reports: “Everyone was glad to have Sarah with us today! Students recapped for Sarah what we're up to and why--reflecting on our current situation by channeling emotions into the parts of the body we can see while masked (eyes, eyebrows, hands).

Sarah works with PS6 student

Evelyn's demo on the Smart Board at PS 6

In the two classes we were able to work with, we picked up where we left off with our pencil outlines. Students added the bridge of their noses, masks, ears, hair, neck, shoulders, and hands (for those students who chose to include them.) Students depicted shock, happiness, confusion and other emotions in their drawings.

Students focused and worked quietly and asked questions when they needed. In one class, we had a robust critique in which students compared, contrasted and complimented each other's depiction of sparkling eyes, curly hair, face shape, detailed line work. In the other class, students took the whole period to work on their drawings and get set for our next phase in the third and final session next week--color!!”

Student with self portrait in process

Mrs. Tolentino shares her thoughts: “Special thanks to Dennis and Evelyn from the ART YARD BKLYN for giving my students an opportunity to participate in the lesson about self-portraiture. My students were so excited! They listened attentively as Dennis and Evelyn taught them about the importance of observing one’s emotion through their eyes, eyebrows, hand gestures, body language. Students used small stand up mirrors to observe the shape of their face, eyes, and their eyebrows. They showed them several examples of self-portraits and each one had a different interpretation of each subject’s emotions.

Student using stand up mirror to draw from observation

I think this art project explored the idea of becoming a “feelings expert” or “feelings detective” through their work. They used all kinds of clues to figure out how someone is feeling, but the first and main one is the facial expression. Since they are all wearing masks, we can’t really see their nose or mouth. Though it is a challenge, we can still see their eyes, eyebrows and the rest of their body language (what their arms, shoulders, and hands are doing)

PS 6 student self portrait in process

This activity can definitely inspire a discussion about how we can still sense each other’s emotions and share them with each other, even with masks on. ART YARD definitely provides the opportunity to explore a student’s strengths, growth areas, and personal voice. Students were able to communicate their feelings through the creation of a self-portrait. Communicating with others and understanding their feelings allow them to better relate to one another. We all know that kindness is often expressed through our acknowledgement of others or our own emotions.

Portraits in process assembled for critique

Mrs. Tolentino’s students added their thoughts:

“I was very happy to do a self- portrait. I thoroughly enjoyed this activity. My favorite part was when we got to share our drawings and we got complimented for our work. It was an enjoyable experience.” – Apoorva Dwivedi

PS 6 student self portrait in process

“I loved this experience where we got to do a self- portrait showing our emotions. ART YARD helped us unleash our imaginations and be creative. My favorite part was when I was able to see my classmates’ work and do a critique. I also loved that I got complimented for my work!” – Kashvi Gupta

PS 6 student self portrait in process

“Dennis and Evelyn taught us useful methods to make our drawing come alive and how to make it more realistic. They inspired us and encouraged us to draw and be aware of our physical features and emotions.” Sahana Jayathilak

PS 6 student self portrait in process

“I enjoyed doing this self- portrait. The emotion I depicted in my drawing was confusion. This pandemic has affected our lives so much that I feel confused.”- Vaanya Kumar

PS 6 critique in action

“I like that Dennis and Evelyn said that it is ok if our drawings aren’t perfect. Even if I thought my drawing was not good, they still complimented me. They gave us step by step directions so that it will be easy for us to make our own portraits. My art experience was fun!" - Dhruv Inani

PS 6 student self portrait in process

“I loved my experience with Dennis and Evelyn! They were so patient, kind and sweet to all of us. I don’t really enjoy drawing but they inspired me to enjoy it all over again. I love that they made sure to remind everyone to follow directions and to not go ahead, that this was a step by step project.”- Keyana Richardson

PS 6 student self portrait in process

“My experience with Dennis and Evelyn was amazing! They encouraged us to look at the mirror and draw what we see from our own point of view. While we were drawing, they kept on saying “That looks exactly like you!” to motivate us. I enjoyed drawing my eyes because it can show my emotion and what I feel.”- Naisha Umesh

PS 6 student at work drawing from observation

“I had a great experience with Dennis and Evelyn. My favorite part of the self- portrait was drawing the eyes because it was the part where we had to add the most detail. I enjoyed this activity!’- Prathamesh Verma

PS 6 student at work drawing from observation

“I liked the theme Heal and Restore- it’s timely during this pandemic which has affected our lives for the past 2 years. I love the part when we were reviewing each other’s portrait without judgements.”-Krishiv Hiray

4th grader Myra Singh writes:


On Tuesday teaching artist Fatima Traore led ART YARD Advanced Studio in a session she titles Let There Be Light.

Fatima explains "The title is a quote references biblical scriptures that refer to the beginning of the earth. First darkness, then light, and then the immediate separation of the two. The images for inspiration came from a collection of artists and time periods. Starting with the Baroque Period where Rembrandt and Caravaggio's paintings display dramatic and exaggerated uses of light surrounded by dark shadows and values. Edward Hopper's painting communicated a similar aesthetic while using complimentary colors in the darkest of areas. Fatima went on to show us some modern artists including, Anna Carrien-Goosen and David Ambarzumjan who both use color and contrast in dynamic ways that draw the viewers to specific areas of their work.

Caravaggio, The Calling of Saint Matthew, 1599-1600

David Ambarzumjan, Recover, 2019

Advanced Studio Artists got right to work with light in mind; what it represents, how it can be used as a tool within our art and how it relates to healing in the physical, emotional, and spiritual sense. The outcome was truly fascinating!... So much took place in such little time.

There were a collection of mediums displayed amongst the working artist. Ed used collage method to illustrate a biblical scene.

Ed Rath, Let There be Light, Fire and Brimstone

Vera Tineo put together digital short movie composed of layered and moving images coming in and out of light.

Candy and Fatima used oil pastels on black paper to capture the light in their memories.

Candy Heiland, Let There Be Light

Fatima Traore, Let There Be Light l

Sarah took inspiration from artist David Ambarzumjan by using two opposing mediums to juxtapose the image from her boldly painted brushstroke.

Sarah Gumgumji, Let There Be Light

Pat and Jacob took the time to capture the essence of their cats in light and facing light.

Pat Larash, Let There Be Light

Jacob Rath, Let There Be Light

Meridith and Alison used light symbolically in their work emphasizing how we use it to see and what light means to the masses.

Meridith McNeal, Let There Be Light

Alison Guinet, Let There Be Light

Marilyn used a technique from Fatima's "Holiday lights" lesson with wax and watercolors to create a night scene with stars brightly shining.

Marilyn August, Let There Be Light

Madison and Fatima also thought about light from within in their portraits and how the direction of light changes our perception.

Madison Mack, Let There Be Light

Madison Mack, painting framed and ready for inclusion in the exhibition Black Stories Matter

Fatima Traore, Let There Be Light


We started the week with Love – Looking Out our second love themed session of ART YARD Advanced Studio on Zoom presented by Teaching Artist Iviva Olenick.

Iviva Olenick, Blooms Brighten in progress

Iviva summarizes: “In this session, we looked outward, making artworks referencing people, places, experiences and even art materials that we love. This included Candy's drawing of her dog looking at her longingly;

Candy Heiland, Love - Looking Out

Ed's collage of an apple tree. He shared two versions of his work during critique one with a red band at the top one without which spurred a lively discussion with fans emerging for both versions!;

Ed Rath, Love - Looking Out l & ll

Madison's drawn homage to her Mason jar holding solvent;

Madison Mack, Love - Looking Out

Pat's comedy-tragedy drawing (which Meridith compared to Honoré Daumier’s drawing, complimenting Pat on a new level of expression and looseness of line work in her drawings.);

Pat Larash, Love - Looking Out

Drawing by Honoré Daumier

Alison's joyful mixed media drawing with comedy-tragedy symbols;

Alison Guinet, Love - Looking Out

Vera's collection of gum packages in progress,

Meridith's took the Love - Looking Out message as the moment to begin a commissioned Pearl Anniversary piece;

Meridith McNeal, Love - Looking Out (Pearls and Shells)

Fatima's watercolor homage to her students.

Fatima Traore, Love - Looking Out

And Marilyn's heart-shaped glasses (in progress) with a garden and songbird in the lens

Marilyn August, Love - Looking Out

Dennis comments: Marilyn's piece reminded me of something I saw today on my walk to the East Side (I know - please don't advertise that I do sometimes leave the beautiful West Side to go to the East Side!). I had a doctor's appointment at NYU Langone and always go there by foot. As it was President's Day, I intentionally walked east on 38th Street to pass one of my favorite buildings in NY - a double house in Murray Hill that has a direct link to Abraham Lincoln. No - Abe never set foot in that house because it was built after he was killed by about 30 years. It's known as the Charles Isham House and was owned and occupied by Charles and Mary Lincoln Isham - one of Abe Lincoln's granddaughters.

Ok so that really has nothing to do with Marilyn's piece. But when I walked by that building today (and it's been more than a year since I have done so), I saw these beautiful (what appear to be) paper or straw cardinals on a tree in the front gate. I'm not sure if they're left-over Christmas decorations or a new installation or what. I'm fascinated by how clean and erect the birds are - through the recent rain and snow storms here in NY??

Dennis Buonagura, Cardinal Tree

Anyway, long story short (who me?) - they reminded me of Marilyn's lovely little painting of the birds in the tree in today's class."

Kevin’s globe of affirmations is still in progress. Kevin explains: “So through this piece I am trying to convey self-love. When it comes to school, I often feel that the world keeps going and going without being able to stop. At times I can work myself to the point of exhaustion, which makes it very difficult to take a step away from what I need to do, so much so that the thought of not doing well fills my entire world. So therefore, I decided to draw a globe and fill it with affirmations to ground and restore myself.

Kevin Anderson, Love - Looking Out (in progress)

Kevin adds: “I would like to compliment Marilyn. I really liked she fit the aspects of nature in the lens. It made me feel like I was actually there, or rather I could see the tree right in front of me. I would also like to compliment Candy for her dog's portrait. It evoked a lot of emotion. I also really liked her usage of blue.”


Other Art News:

Marilyn shares: “NPR just rebroadcast Radical Connections Between Art and Incarceration, an interview with Nicole Fleetwood and Russel Craig that was recorded in January. It starts with Faith Ringgold finding that her painting For the Women’s House at Rikers Island was in disrepair and no longer visible to most inmates. Then moved the Brooklyn Museum.” Click the link to check it out!

Faith Ringgold, For the Women’s House, 1971 installed at the New Museum (photo by Dennis Buonagura)

Dennis, who attended a special event held in connection with the exhibition Faith Ringgold: American People at The New Museum last night, raves about the exhibition now on view through June 5, 2022.


Kudos to ART YARD Teaching Artist Evelyn Beliveau whose paintings are included in Black and White at St. Hrouda Gallery, 227 5th Ave, Park Slope, Brooklyn. Tomorrow is the last day to catch the exhibition!

Evelyn Beliveau, Veil, 2022


Looking Out with Love,

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