top of page

Super Duper Cool

Dennis reports in “LIVE FROM BROOKLYN“. “After a month of remote learning, we are back with ART YARD Art Matters at the Brooklyn New School (BNS) LIVE and IN PERSON. Teaching artist Evelyn Beliveau delivered an exceptional lesson on Healing Through Self Portraiture (looking into oneself).

Evelyn teaching facial proportions at BNS

Our group of 8 second grade students listened attentively as Evelyn taught them, step by step, about observational drawing. She showed them several examples of self-portraits - including those by Kerry James Marshall, Frida Kahlo and TM Davy. Other topics discussed (all not fully related but, well .... in many ways they were): why are portraits made in "portrait"/horizontal mode? do eyebrows serve any purpose? and (Dennis' favorite) "was Cleopatra from Brooklyn?".

Zoe felt a self-portrait in landscape orientation could give her greater options for backgrounds - so she decided to experiment. Excellent! Lots of smart thinking going on in our class!

Using pencil and paper to begin, students used small stand-up mirrors to examine the shapes of their faces, their eyebrows, and their eyes. Lots of questions popped up - and the answer to each one was basically the same, which was 'draw what you see'.

Questions and comments were: "sometimes I wear glasses but I'm not wearing them today" or "I have green dye in my hair but I'm washing it out tonight" and the big big big question from every student was "do I draw my mask?". TO MASK OR NOT TO MASK? THAT IS THE QUESTION. Evelyn repeated: "draw what you see". She and Dennis will make an executive decision this week about masked or unmasked portraits!

BNS Student at work

While students were anxious to 'go to the head of the class' by advancing their portraits to include noses, ears, hair, etc., Evelyn kept them on track and moved them forward, step-by-step. No rushing ahead!!!! The results are looking great, thus far.

Student observing themself in a small mirror

Two students brought Baby Yodas with them - explaining to Dennis (rather, bamboozling Dennis) that they give them the confidence needed to do well in class. So, when in Rome - even Baby Yoda peered into a mirror and started a self-portrait.”

Yoda borrows the mirror

Evelyn further summarizes: “We had a fun first day in person at BNS! Students had great ideas to share--to show how you're feeling or let others know how you see yourself! Drawing a self-portrait is a great way to slow down and be aware of yourself and the moment you're in, which can contribute beautifully to a process of healing. Students also had a lot to say about Frida Kahlo, one of our example artists, and talked poignantly about the connection between art and healing they see in her work.

Evelyn teaching at BNS

Next, students jumped in with their own self portrait drawings! We're working step by step to make sure students slow down and really look in their mirrors to observe the details of each feature. Today, we drew the shape of the head, the eyes (taking care to place them horizontally and vertically on the face), eyebrows, and hair. I enjoyed talking to different students about the shapes they saw in their features and the decision whether or not to include a highlight in their eyes.

Well observed student portrait in progress at BNS

In critique, students noticed similarities and differences between the level of detail in one another's drawings, and one student complimented the sense of wonder in the wide eyes of another student's drawing.

BNS Student self portrait in progress

I was impressed by the engagement and participation of the students from the initial discussion through final critique!”


In ART YARD Advanced Studio we spent both Monday and Tuesday on Zoom with Teaching Artist Hawley Hussey delving into the pagan holiday which marks the beginning of spring. Both sessions felt very much a celebration of our community as they filled with thoughtful and intriguing banter related to Hawley’s presentations.

Hawley Hussey, New painting in process in the studio (detail)

Hawley explains: “This turn of the wheel brings us to Imbolc or Imbolg. A festival of returning light and the beginning of Spring celebrating the Goddess Brigid. It is a celebration of hearth and home. Lighting candles and fires represents the return of warmth. Big themes for the two workshops were Listening/Dreaming /Visioning and Gathering/Discernment/Focus.

Screen shots from Hawley's presentation

The questions we pondered with our art and lively dialogue:

What is wanting to emerge? What new beginning is arising? What do I need to tend to? What is asking for my attention?

While the amazing group began to create I presented a series of images and ideas to inspire their thinking and creating about this season. I shared the Triple Goddess symbol of the waxing, full and waning moon, representing the aspects of the Maiden, Mother and Crone. The maiden represents enchantment, inception, expansion, the promise of new beginnings, birth, youth and youthful enthusiasm. We dug into the incredible SNOWDROP Flower! This flower is a true harbinger of Spring that typically blooms from late February to late march!”

Karla included images of hyacinth vine seeds in her collage, she sent over images of the actual seeds she is planting for reference, explaining: “They bloom lilac/purple and grow these gorgeous burgundy pods which produce these beautiful seeds for the next planting!!”

Karla Prickett, Imbolc Celebrating the Return of Spring

Madison shared many compliments: “Hawley’s lesson was super duper cool, I never heard of Imbolc, so learning about it today has taught me a lot! I thought at first I was going to have nothing to draw from, but as you continued to teach and show videos I was able to get creative! Thank you!!” Karla’s collage seemed so enticing with the colors had a beautiful color palette and I love taking care of my plants so I like how you incorporated seeds.

Delphine’s piece was super surprising in a unique way, especially with the heart and the flowers. Her inclusion of her now signature hand in the lower right added to the impact of her work.

Delphine Levenson, Imbolc Celebrating the Return of Spring

I loved all of Nayarit pieces! She showed environmentalism in all of them! A perfect reflection of what she cares about and how she acts in the world.

Nayarit Tineo, Imbolc Celebrating the Return of Spring

I was really impressed at how Vera’s piece came together so well and felt so strong. It was really interesting to notice that here overlapping hands looked woven (a topic that came up in Hawley's presentation.)

Vera Tineo, Imbolc Celebrating the Return of Spring

Meridith’s use of paper towel and glitter was so cool and unique. Great problem solving Meridith! (To bad about the "glitter fiasco" in your studio!!)

Meridith McNeal, Imbolc Celebrating the Return of Spring

The meaning behind Robin’s piece was amazing (we all agree and we all totally support Robin’s vision!!)

Robin Grant, Imbolc Celebrating the Return of Spring

And Ed, I loved your piece, especially the Groundhog😂😂”

Ed Rath, Imbolc Celebrating the Return of Spring

Ed complimented Amelia for her excellent symbolic use of a chrysalis image layered with nuanced meaning.

Amelia Tineo, Imbolc Celebrating the Return of Spring

I loved that Assata used her own drawing from several years ago as an inspiration for her drawing this session! Her piece also stemmed a fascinating tangent of conversation into mushrooms and mosses.

Assata Benoit, Early drawing and Imbolc Celebrating the Return of Spring

Hawley told me today that she simply can not get Pat's Triple Goddess Snow Drop (center image below) out of her mind. She adds she thinks it would make a perfect tattoo!

Pat Larash, Imbolc Celebrating the Return of Spring I, II & III

Madison's piece just blew me away! I love how the tree becomes the shadow of the hand. The concept of the hand growing a plant from the center of the palm actually inspired my piece for Tuesday's session!

Madison Mack, Imbolc Celebrating the Return of Spring

We all gasped when Hawley pointed out that the eye in Candy's stunning drawing perfectly mirrored the graphic phases of the moon image we studied! One of several examples of ART YARD Artists working from the subconscious.

Candy Heiland, Imbolc Celebrating the Return of Spring

Marilyn August, Imbolc Celebrating the Return of Spring

Dennis pipes in: Marilyn's piece made me think of the pet memorial tree in Central Park. Each year, people decorate a tree with ribbons and photos and sometimes even little toys on a tree in the Ramble. The Central Park Conservancy doesn't support it, but they leave it be. Not sure who starts it - but it's kind of like Brigadoon - it appears, and then it's gone, and then it reappears. I've seen it for years and always dreaded the day that I would participate in hanging a memorial.

On Christmas Eve this year, we hung Hazel's photo on the tree - Joe hung it way up high because he wanted her to be above all the others (I don't like it there!) but I'm happy that she's included. I go by often with Olive to see it. It is kind of magical - very much (to me) like Marilyn's piece from last night's class.

Hawley continues: “Night two was so dynamic: time lapses of plants and root systems, Central Park and Joshua Tree National Park turned from deep winter to full bloom while everyone was making! I think I really got the hang of this incredible group!"

Pat's first piece was inspired by the time laps plant and root videos. In her second piece she though of action and organizing, which she started by turning off her camera and organizing the classroom around her. I likened her beautiful abstraction to the feel of the illustrations from The Little Prince.

Pat Larash, Imbolc Celebrating the Return of Spring (day 2)

Ed Rath, , Imbolc Celebrating the Return of Spring (day 2), New Beginnings

Nayarit Tineo, Imbolc Celebrating the Return of Spring (day 2)

Vera Tineo, Imbolc Celebrating the Return of Spring (day 2)

Meridith McNeal, Imbolc Celebrating the Return of Spring (day 2) inspired by Madison Mack

I am determined that Candy's FANTASTIC drawing will be printed on our next ART YARD tote bag!

Candy Heiland, Imbolc Celebrating the Return of Spring (day 2)

Hawley, whose own drawing references her exciting publishing project quickly coming to fruition, sums up: "The evening ended with a deep dive into a love for books and reading! I wrote down so many titles!”

Hawley Hussey, Imbolc Celebrating the Return of Spring (day 2)

This is a perfect place to put an image of the painting I just completed!

Meridith McNeal, Library of Dreams, 2022, watercolor on paper, 55x61"


Other art news:

I went with my Making & Seeing Art in NY students from Wagner College to see three superb exhibitions in Chelsea. Golnar Adili: Found in Translation: A Story of Language, Play, and a Personal Archive at CUE Art Foundation (137 W 25th Street); Roxa Smith & Cal Lane: In Her Space at C24 Gallery (560 W 24th Street) and Chie Fueki: You & I and Alexi Worth: Nearness at DC Moore Gallery (535 West 22nd Street). All exhibitions well worth seeing.

Golnar Adili: Found in Translation: A Story of Language, Play, and a Personal Archive at CUE Art Foundation

Roxa Smith painting on view at C24 Gallery

Detail of painting by Chie Fueki on view at DC Moore Gallery

Vera joined us at the last gallery and then the two of us went on the Whitney Museum to see Jennifer Packer The Eye is Not Satisfied with Seeing, as well the exhibition of the Whiney Collection from 1900-1965. A highlight for me was sitting with Vera to watch the film of Alexander Calder activating his Circus. It is a completely inspired insight into his work. While I have enjoyed the quirky hodgepodge figurines many times over the years, it was the film that really took the work to the next level!

Vera Tineo reviews the afternoon: “Yesterday, I got the chance to reawaken the joy I experience in seeing art in person, and to remember how accessible it is for me to do just that as a New Yorker. It was my first visit to both the Whitney Museum and DC Moore Gallery. Meridith and I had a great time talking about the art as we looked.

Vera with Franz Kline, Mahoning, 1956 (A little blurry but the color and composition are great!)

At DC Moore both artists used unlikely materials and by careful observation we started to understand their processes. I particularly loved Chie Fueki’s portrait of her teacher and mentor Catherine Murphy. Fueki’s work captured so much movement and colorful expression. We found small surprises like cats, hands, legs that are repeated in painting.

At the Whitney, Jennifer Packer explores the figure and the idea of “what is finished”. She is not only addressing the figure, but she digs in with a personal subject matter, family, and friends. The effect is that the viewer feels the intimacy between the sitter and the painter. I think these paintings are very interestingly resolved with an intentional unfinished look.”

Jennifer Parker, A Lesson In Longing, 2019. Oil on canvas, 108 1/2 × 137 in.


HUGE CONGRATULATIONS to ART YARD Artist Nayarit Tineo who has been excepted with two scholarships to the School of Architecture and Planning at University of Buffalo for a dual masters in Architecture and Urban Planning!!!!


Nayarit writes: “I was having a lot of anxious dreams about getting accepted. It’s been my dream since sophomore year in college, and even with people confirming I will get in and encouraging me to stay hopeful. Each day that passed felt like a ticking bomb. Normally with early decisions you hear back within a month or two but I had to wait three months and 3 weeks almost 4 months to be officially accepted !! And not only that but also with a dean list scholarship and partial tuition scholarship, let’s just say that patience is a virtue and good things are worth the wait. I am so grateful to have the ART YARD community that encouraged me, no matter what the result was, to explore and learn new things every day . I am very grateful and excited for my future endeavors!!



121 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All


bottom of page