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"The capacity of these students to create is truly beautiful."

Updated: Mar 10, 2020

After a little scuffle trying to locate our work in progress, ART YARD Advanced Studio Artists, enthusiastically leapt into completing their Fragmented Self Portraits.

The vibe of deep artistry was so palpable that no less than four passersby knocked on the door at Kentler asking if they could join this drawing group! Not surprising as the atmosphere was serious, focused and exuberant. Jeffrey told me that he made a point of arriving on time as he is so inspired by the work he is making. Now that’s the sort of thing I relate to as an artist -- the compulsion to get back into the studio.

We were all blown away at critique. These pieces are so fascinating. Psychologically, this fractured grid is a deep well of ideas and inspiration.

Rachael pointed out that August, in adding a panel depicting the back of his head, just flipped the whole emotional vibrancy of his piece in a radical and inspired manner.

Many artists gave compliments to Jeffrey for his wonderfully inventive process of bending the mirror. Fatima praised Evelyn’s multiple-eyed-self for style, structure and success. We all readily agreed!

Teaching Artist Rachael Wren exclaims: “It was exciting to see everyone take their fractured self-portraits to the next level during the second work session on these drawings. Sometimes, for artists, it can be hard to re-enter a work in progress after a week away, but Advanced Studio students jumped back in with confidence and enthusiasm, and their finished drawings show mastery of both the materials and concepts covered in the lesson.”


This week at MS226 in South Ozone Park, Queens, we kicked off work with a new cohort of students for the most part Ms. Christina Heller’s class. We have extended the invitation to participate to a few of our most dedicated students from earlier cohorts. What a good idea that was!

In the ART YARD Gallery at MS 226, as the students worked, Ms. Heller enthusiastically reported in that she felt this eclectic blend of artists was working wonders to inspire each other to work hard and dig deep into the lesson taught by none other than Teaching Artist Vera Tineo. Vera, or Miss Vee as the students refer to her, presented a deeply engaging lesson.

Vera used her own work – a beautiful three part series of prints about an important event in her life -- as a springboard for this month-long project. She asked our students to consider the psychological and emotional aspect of our theme of reflection. This group not only engaged in a powerful discussion about Vera’s concept and her triptych, they took this concept and made it their own as they created pencil sketches of a three part personally significant narrative.

The feeling in our gallery-turned-studio was a vibrant and thoughtful one. Vera and I circulated amongst the artists giving feedback and encouragement. Ms. Heller, as always, provided deeper insight and validation to the successes we observed.

Vera explains: “The students of MS 226 worked on refining their own skills of storytelling though visual imagery. For this first class in the cycle I challenged our students to focus on illustrating an meaningful event in their lives. Working with the kids and understand their visual library open my eyes to their capabilities to create and share deeply personal experience though handwriting and illustration.”

All of us in the room were inspired by the work of the day. This lead to a wonderful critique and revved us all up in anticipation of the painting we will begin next week.

Vera eloquently summed up the day “the capacity of these students to create is truly beautiful.”


Today at PS 6 Teaching Artist Evelyn Beliveau educated 2nd, 4th and 5th grade students in self-portraiture during 3 classes spanning 75 minutes each.

Using small rectangular mirrors which were leaning against heavy-weight paper cups, students followed Evelyn's step-by-step instructions on creating authentic self-portraits. The steps included drawing eyes (including lids, lashes, irises, reflections, tear ducts), ears, noses, eyebrows, hair, necks, collars and shoulders - all from a front view.

Determining the shapes of their own heads was challenging for some but after gazing into their mirrors (some gazed a bit too long while others had surprised expressions upon discovering "hey, is that really me?"), they altered their shapes accordingly.

Students listed the colors they see in their faces and selected some colors as their backgrounds for their next lesson in painting their self-portraits.

Teaching Artist Sarah Gumgumji participated in every class and was, as always, a valuable asset. Her specialty (amongst many) during these classes was working with students who just could not get started. Once Sarah helped them to decide the shapes of their faces and put pencil to paper, there was no stopping them. Looking at oneself in a mirror for about 75 minutes can be daunting.

During critique, 2nd grader Soryn loudly proclaimed: "I wish we could stay here all weekend and make art". So do we, Soryn, so do we!


ART to see this weekend!

Saturday, March 7th at 4pm at our home base Kentler International Drawing Space at 353 Van Brunt Street, Red Hook, Brooklyn there is an Artist's Talk by exhibiting artist SA’DIA REHMAN in and about her exhibition The Cost of Entry.

There is a short reception to follow the talk and the reception are open and free to the public.


Talented photographer Erin Patrice O’Brian, mother of ART YARD Teen Maya Cubarle,photographed 8 young skateboarders who Erin cast from my Portrait of a Skateboard Project. Erin took photographic portraits of them in my studio and then they all hopped in her minivan and went to Fatkid Skatepark in Dumbo for some action shots. The photographs are fantastic!

NOTE THE RELEASE PARTY HAS BEEN POSTPONED! I will post again if and when it is rescheduled!


Quentin, Claudia and I will be installing the ART YARD exhibition Reflections at St. Joseph's College Alumni Room Gallery tomorrow morning. There are several public events to be held in conjunction with the exhibition and I hope to see you at one or all of them!

Best wishes for an art filled and inspiring week ahead,

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