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Super Fly

On Monday ART YARD Artist Ajani Russell presented: Portraiture and Abstraction. Inspired by portraits by Alice Neel, Lucian Freud, Lynette Yiadom-boakye, Mickalene Thomas, Faith Ringgold, Amy Sherald, Billy Mandini, Barkley Hendricks and Ajani’s own work we created abstracted self-portraits utilizing several color techniques.

Ajani presenting on zoom

Karla summarizes: “What a great presentation, Ajani! The works and artists you presented truly provided amazing studies of portrait, painting, and the use of color.

Ajani presenting on zoom

I (Karla) decided to use a manila envelope as my canvas because of the warm tone. I felt the bright colors would create the drawing aspect and leave the warm tone as base. I had several colored paper scraps in the studio, and chose to work with colors similar to those you pointed out in many of the portraits - blue, red, green, white, ochre, black.

Karla Prickett, Self Portrait

Richie’s and Vera‘s digital drawings were amazing! I liked Richie‘s use of solid shapes of color and broken line in contrast to Vera‘s layers of text - white lines on black - black lines on white. The postures and expressions by both were so well done.

Richard Lee Chong, Self Portrait

V Tineo, Self Portrait

V Tineo, The Making of a Self Portrait

I loved the simplicity of Ed’s collage. The posture and expression were wonderful and the solid background echoed the strength of some of the examples…setting the figure into focus in a dimensional silhouette.

Ed Rath, Self Portrait

Sigrid’s watercolor was exceptional! Ed pointed out that the straight forward point of view is one of the most challenging to depict.

Sigrid Dolan, Self Portrait

I liked Abby‘s full length portrait and especially the palette of the piece and quick strokes and hints of color to capture dimension.

Abby Johnson, Self Portrait (in progress)

Meridith’s painting, which focused on round mirror with her image partially reflected, was a creative approach to the lesson. I felt the surroundings became part of the portrait’s identity.

Meridith McNeal, Self Portrait

Ajani also used a small round mirror which made for an intriguing close up, which is beautifully rendered in watercolor.

Ajani Russell, Self Portrait

All the works reflected the individual personalities of this wonderful group of artist. Thanks Ajani for such an informative and inspirational lesson. I appreciated your focus on “looking” and the way you pointed out various drawing and painting gestures in the examples.”

While Delphine did not make it to this session, she has been working on self-portraiture for her high school portfolio. This is her most recent effort made using the requisite graphite.

Delphine Levenson, Self Portrait


On Tuesday ART YARD Artist Dakota Jones taught his very first ART YARD Advanced Studio Session! The 61 bus was a challenge so we were all a bit discombobulated by the time we made it to out studio at BWAC!

Delphine complimented Dakota on his clear and well-presented lesson. Pointing out that it certainly did not feel like a first-time effort! In my opinion at the core of the strength in Dakota’s presentation style is his calm, unflappable personality. He was at ease as he presented, clear and thoughtful, sitting amongst the group.

Dakota introduces the lesson

Dakota put together a challenging still life for us to work from. Out first drawing was a 5 minute contour line, next a 10 minute contour and finally a 30 minute drawing in which Dakota stressed that we should look for light and shadow (even if we chose to continue with contour drawing.)

Dakota’s drawings are executed with skill and keen observation.

Dakota Jones, Still Life Drawings (5, 10, 30 minutes)

TJ who was home from college for Thanksgiving excelled at lesson. Ed complimented her narrative depiction as well as her skill at what was a rather challenging angle.

TJ Edgar, Still Life Drawings (5, 10, 30 minutes)

Ed focused on a strange bowl that cast coral-like shadows in his trio of drawings.

Ed Rath, Still Life Drawings (5, 10, 30 minutes)

Delphine worked hard on this project as she will need it for her high school portfolio. The 30 minute piece is still in progress.

Delphine Levenson, Still Life Drawings (5, 10, 30 minutes)

I (Meridith) received compliments for my handling of glass and transparency.

Meridith McNeal, Still Life Drawings (10, 30 minutes)

This excellent session starts a three-part series exploring still life. We all look forward to more classes with ART YARD Teaching Artist Dakota Jones!


Ajani, Sylvain, Mel and I joined Ed Rath to see the movie The Disappearance of Shere Hite. We all enjoyed the movie and were interested to learn about Shere Hite, her work, and the response to her books in the media. Ajani put it succinctly: “This is still very relevant today.” Ed, who appears in the film is well spoken, as we all anticipated. Plus they included several pictures of Ed “back in the day” (!!!).

Afterwards Sylvain, Mel, Ajani, and I enjoyed a meal at La Lanterna di Vittorio. Fun fact: Artist Alice Neel lived at 129 MacDougal Street, the building which houses La Lanterna, in 1937.


ART YARD BKLYN is thrilled to be included in Brooklyn Gives on GivingTuesday, Brooklyn Org's annual crowdfunding campaign, uniting donors and nonprofits across our borough in support of social change on GivingTuesday, the year’s biggest day of giving, taking place this November 28th.

Please consider supporting ART YARD BKLYN through

Brooklyn Gives on GivingTuesday 2023!!!



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