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Renewed Passport

Updated: Dec 11, 2021

This week I taught a session called Renewed Passport for ART YARD Advanced Studio on Zoom. My theme of travel was spurred on by many things including Wayne’s recent trip to Rio, a conversation with Naya and Abby about places we have traveled to (Las Vegas and Paris respectively) and my own current conundrum trying to reschedule my big solo exhibition in Venice, Italy -- dates, schedules, finances, my expired passport in the unclearly timed renewal phase and uncertain world situation all factors in the puzzle.

Meridith McNeal, Renewed Passport, Venice

I started the session sharing images of vintage travel posters & souvenir maps, as well as travel related art by John Singer Sargent, Joseph Cornell, Maira Kalman and Carrie Mae Weems (examples in that order below).

Participating artists were asked to consider what place called to them with a siren call. Perhaps a place they hope to revisit or a new location all together. To think about images that might identify the place, and finally what obstacles they might need to overcome.

Ed Rath took his inspiration from Grant Wood’s painting Stone City Iowa, 1930. Ed’s collage created in our working hour fascinated all of us and spurred on a great discussion about how we all learn from other artists, and the significant power of creating your own version of a master work.

Then Ed worked an additional SIX hours on his piece! The results are simply stunning!!

Ed Rath, Renewed Passport, Stone City, Iowa after Grant Wood

Also staying in the U.S., Naya conjured up Hawaii. Which, as Vera pointed out in critique, evoked those alluring travel posters we viewed at the start of class.

Naya Jackson, Renewed Passport, Hawaii

Zeke drew a beautiful English seaside scene with elegant and deliberate line work.

Zeke Brokaw, Renewed Passport, English Seaside

Air travel featured in Abby Johnson’s depiction of Greece, Delphine Levenson’s mixed media Parisian work and Marilyn August’s collage of Italy. (Shown in that order below.)

Madison, Sarah and Vera are hearing the call to explore Japan. All three included images of iconic and delicious Japanese food.

Madison Mack, Renewed Passport, Japan

Sarah Gumgumji, Renewed Passport, Japan

Vera Tineo, Renewed Passport, Japan

Around the World in one hour – Wayne treated us to a beautiful travel log and Nayarit feverishly worked in her sketchbook completing eight pages of drawings.

Wayne Gross, Renewed Passport, Around the World

Nayarit Tineo, Renewed Passport, Around the World

I regularly send out Sunday evening reminders about the classes for the week ahead. Karla referenced this practice in her text about her completed piece which in a twist on the lesson explores the notion of Time Travel!

Karla writes: “I was a bit perplexed with the lesson prompt on Sunday. Then I thought about how people are now often saying, “I wish things (we) could go back to normal!” That phrase “go back” kept playing in my head and I thought it might be someplace desirable to go. Time travel was where I landed: 1915 and 1935 newspaper clip outs, a childhood pastel drawing aged from isolated attic display and an aeronautical flight map and its KANSAS graphic. I liked the travel posters and wanted to reference their poster-like format. The figures seemed dressed to go places!!"

Karla Prickett, Renewed Passport, Kansas Time Travel

What location are you dreaming of?!


While moving forward with their diptychs of healing and restoring oceans and protecting sea life, students participating in ART YARD Art Matters at Brooklyn New School acquired lots of new skills.

Welcome to the ART YARD classroom at BNS

Dennis reports: “Teaching Artist Fatima Traore demonstrated several watercolor painting techniques - and the students jumped at the chance to apply what they’d learned.

Dottie read our lists of sea creatures and items which are dangerous to them aloud to the class (for some students, it was their first day with this new group) and everyone came up with more new ideas.

Zoe was using black watercolor paint that just didn’t seem the right kind of black that she wanted ….. so, Fatima explained how water works with paint and let Zoe experiment for herself. Add more water? Use less water? Maybe just a tiny drop of water? No water? Zoe “tested the water” and found exactly what she wanted. Success!

Their pieces will ultimately become colorful watercolor diptychs - although a variety of color processes are being used (paint and brush, watercolor pencil and brush, watercolor pencils and wet fingers, and regular colored pencils for details).

Sophia (BNS), Underwater Creature

A discussion about the different blues, grays, greens, and browns found when painting water was lively and well participated. Max G. used a silver gray watercolor pencil with excellent results while Max L. tried several blues and greens.

Time flies by very quickly in this after school program - and each week, the works are enhanced while learning new techniques and having in-depth discussions about our theme.”


We reached a new depth of concentration and camaraderie this week in ART YARD Advanced Studio at BWAC!

Arriving for the evening at our home base in Red Hook:

Ed compliments and expounds upon the session, the artists involved and their work: "In her recent ART YARD Advanced Studio at BWAC lesson series Candy encouraged us to look for images where ever we may find them. To this end she had us working from photographs, memory, observation, dreams, reflections, and other artists' work, noting: "Nothing is off limits."

Advanced Studio Artists at work in our studio at BWAC

The instrument we use to gather and record ideas and images is the Artist's Sketchbook. Armed with this portable tool we jot down thoughts and pictures from that great oracle of creativity, The Stream of Consciousness. These bytes are later processed and composed into larger compositions. That's the process we tap into when making art.

The group observed how Abby, in a riveting new version of last week's drawing of the stone arched window, added reflections in dark tones which re-centered the focus of the picture to a mysterious miasma of shadowy origin. Her understated use of warm and cool tones transformed her unassuming rendering into a portal to the unknown.

Abbrielle Johnson, Watercolor from Sketchbook drawing, in progress

Likewise, Vera used multiple techniques of layering light colors over dark, followed by dark over light, to create a strange glow that pulls the viewer into her subway/bus phantasm.

Vera using a music stand as an easel

Ijenna's richly textured ink drawing, judiciously tinted with light blue watercolor, softly beckons the viewer into her timeless, dream-like space.

Ed explained how he uses the grid process to help him balance his large compositions. Candy add that using a grid helps with accuracy in transferring small drawings to larger formats. Ed noted that in architectural drawing, the use of rulers is allowed.

Ed Rath, Watercolor from Sketchbook drawing (detail)

Robin drew a scene of a crowd of people at the Museum of Modern Art, standing in front of a bold, calligraphic mural on the museum wall. Robin's composition utilizes a severe horizontal line to divide the composition into two zones: the painted wall at the top and the the floor space below. At the end of the session Robin mentioned she has been inspired by Franz Kline's black and white gestural works. She also mentioned that she often works through the night on her paintings with a feverish intensity. Robin is truly inspired!"

Candy reflects upon the session: "We continued the focus of investigating healing ourselves as artists. The activity is to create a watercolor/ pen and ink drawing based on images from our sketchbooks. We were reminded that artists are healers and are, therefore, designed to be more sensitive. It’s been a tough world, of late and we need to take especially good care of ourselves.

Several people expressed the ways in which they beat themselves up: “This work is not good. I’m not good enough. Other people are more talented than I am..” The focus this week was to be as kind to ourselves as we are to others! “In the event of a loss of cabin pressure, put your oxygen mask on yourselves before helping others.”

Candy Heiland, Watercolor from Sketchbook drawing

The lesson continues to be on process, not product; developing skills to keep ourselves on our path. How do we find inspiration? Where do we gather images for our work? How do We record ideas? What keeps us moving? There was a lovely interchange of ideas and acknowledgement of the value of human interaction. This has been a series of lessons designed to compound on one another; to lure you into an investigation of techniques to create a lifelong commitment to your work; to keep your inspiration fresh and alive.”

Advanced Studio critique in action

The dialogue while we worked was both therapeutic and fun. So much so that our fascinating, erudite conversation during critique absorbed so much of my attention that I neglected to take photos of the work created in the session. Luckily Candy had a photo of her first piece, and Ed and Abby took working snapshots. Something to look forward to in next week's recap!


Other Art News:

Vera, Nayarit, Candy and I had an NYC ART DAY and we highly recommend all of the exhibitions we visited: Etel Adnan and Wassily Kandinsky at the Guggenheim; Egon Schiele, Gustav Klimt, Oskar Kokoschka and their contemporaries in Modern Worlds: Austrian and German Art, 1890–1940 at Neue Galerie.

A highlight of this stop of the day was Vera squealing out loud and bounding towards Klimt’s Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer I (also called The Lady in Gold or The Woman in Gold), seeing it in person for the first time.