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We Are Making a Difference

This week in ART YARD Advanced Studio a few artists continued work and completed their Fractured Self Portraits.

We really love these finished pieces!

Teaching Artist Rachael Wren asked the rest of the group to use the T-Square to create another grid, but this time the squares were filled with drawings of texture. This process was really an interesting one! By looking carefully and figuring out how to represent three-dimensional texture in drawing pushed everyone into a new realm of mark-making.

It has been a very enjoyable and productive cycle working with Rachael.


On Wednesday Teaching Artist Vera Tineo and I returned to MS 226 in Queens. As I was preparing our Gallery/Studio for the day there was a constant stream of student visitors. All of the students from our earlier cohorts are pining to return to ART YARD. However, this cycle we are working with a remarkable cohort of special needs students.

Vera began by showing the class a wonderful drawing she did of a laundromat. We all loved the drawing and our interest spurred an impromptu lesson in one, two and three point perspective! Then Vera presented an excellent demonstration on how to use paint as a drawing tool, transferring drawings onto canvas (starting with a tint of ocher), then building up form and color. We also discussed symbolic and evocative color. Then the students got to work painting the first panel of their triptych.

We are all quite fortunate to have over two hours to devote to our art making. While for most of the students this was a first time working in acrylic paint on canvas, each and every student was successful. The paintings are stylistically varied which made for a lively and interesting critique and compliments.

After cleaning up, Vera and I sat down to take a break and have a snack. Vera expressed her deep appreciation for our students (remembering what it was like to be their age and discover her voice through art making), recognizing their bravery at facing challenges and seeing quite clearly the importance of ART YARD at MS 226 for all of us -- students, teachers, administrators, and teaching artists.

As I rode the train from Lefferts back to Brooklyn, I received this amazing note from classroom teacher Christina Heller:

“Thank you so much for all your patience today and for your effort with the art program with my class. These kids all have amazing potential and need this program more than most. A little TLC, structure and mutual respect goes a long way with them and you and Vera are doing just that. I hope you know what a difference you’re making!


After reviewing and discussing the many gorgeous self-portrait drawings made last week by the students of PS 6, our partnership school in Jersey City, they went yet another step and painted them in diverse and distinct ways.

Teaching Artist Evelyn Bevileau developed a careful and fun step-by-step approach to painting for these grade schoolers. From mixing colors, to matching skin tones, to understanding the colors of lips and eyelids, to selecting the proper sized brushes, and to learning when a painting is finished - students used a variety of mediums and the results are beautiful.

Fifth graders used acrylic paint on heavy stock paper. Most selected solid colors for their backgrounds and matched their eye, hair and skin colors by mixing paints on a palette.

Fourth graders used watercolor paint on high quality watercolor paper. While mixing watercolor paints is a tiny bit more challenging than mixing acrylic paint, the students all succeeded. They also had the additional step of waiting for paint to dry thoroughly before adding additional layers, different colors, or small details.

Second graders learned about monochromatic paintings. They used only black paint but accomplished creating assorted shades of black and gray by using various amounts of water.

Evelyn's demonstration piece

Secong grade critique in action

"Art is doing. Art deals directly with life." Ruth Asawa

Ruth Asawa, her art and children photograph by Imogen Cunningham, 1957


Keep doing!

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