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Willow Creek Larger then Life Portraits

Mentor Artist Kdub Williams transformed the Art Class at Willow Creek Academy into an eighth grade portrait studio. Students learned about the artistry of Chuck Close, mural creation, grid and transfer and painting techniques before they sized up their self portrait photographs into larger then life images on sheets of plywood. Meanwhile, outside the classroom, students worked to paint the skatedecks which will be the featured items at the upcoming Willow Creek fundraising auction.


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Haitian Celebration at Old Adobe

On February 14th students at Old Adobe School in Petaluma celebrated Valentine’s Day AND a celebration of Haitian music, culture, dance and storytelling. The entire school participated in an exciting and enthusiastic culminating performance of a ten week residency with Mentor Artists Djenane Saint Juste, Jeff Pierre and Mama Fofo (Florencia Pierre).

Wearing vibrant costumes and explaining about the languages, history and culture of Haiti, then dancing and playing the drums, Old Adobe students rocked the auditorium. The show closed with the fourth and fifth graders telling the story of “Lasiren & Labalen,” the Mermaid and the Whale.

The entire school ended the show with a rousing rendition of a Haitian folk song. A wonderful performance for all.

Principal Jeff Williamson stated, “As a principal during challenging economic times it is very important to make every dollar serve students well.  Youth in Arts was very attentive to our school’s unique needs and we had several conversations working to make sure our school was matched with an artist that would enhance the education of our children and build artistic capacity in our staff.  Djenane, and her band of drummers, dancers, and story tellers made a great impact on our students, staff, and parents.  The group of artists worked with the entire school community to present a school-wide performance during which each student got to perform.  It was heart warming and brought out high quality artistry in our students. I am already looking forward to the next time I can bring Youth in Arts to our school.”

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Kindergarten Line Research: Imaginary Playgrounds

“What is a path?”

“A mark you make that other people can follow.” –Kindergartener, Ms. Kraft’s classroom.

Children continue to explore the idea of friendship as they design their imaginary playgrounds. We looked at the artwork of Indigenous Australian artists, and discussed the idea of paths. If we walked through a puddle of paint, and then played, what kinds of marks would we leave on the ground? What kinds of marks would our friends make?

Our line challenge involved a careful observation of the classroom, and also reflection. What kinds of lines do we see? What kinds of lines do we remember? We used our arms to practice the lines in the air before we began drawing. We practiced vocabulary too: Zig Zag, Squiggly, Swirl, Horizontal, Vertical, Diagonal, Dotted, Long, Short.

Students were asked to draw at least three different types of lines on their foam boards (donated by a very generous local framer!), and then we added color with liquid watercolors in Bingo Bottles.

Journal Question: Where do we PLAY?

Next time, we build UP as we work with strips of paper to build models of our ideal playgrounds.

Kindergarten Art at Loma Verde: Exploring Friendship

Kindergarten Art Intro: Self –Portraits

We are so excited to begin the wonderful Walker Rezaian Creative HeArts Project at Loma Verde Elementary School. Our first lesson involved creating the covers of our Art Journals. Using oil pastels and the cool colors of tempera cakes, we created rich and silly pictures of ourselves.

Our first Journal question: What is a friend? We drew pictures.

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Culture Shock in Socks!

By Mentor Artist Sheila Berotti

It was with a bit of surprise recently that I realized that 7th graders might have an issue with the custom of removing one’s shoes.

When I teach workshops in Noh and Kyogen theatre with Theatre of Yugen, we ask students to remove their shoes as a matter of course. We work in tabi, which are a special kind of footwear that is a bit more than a sock, but much less than a shoe. In some recent workshops, the students were instructed to take their shoes off and many were willing, but many were plainly defiant and some flatly refused. The point was not over-labored, but it brought me to make a brief explanation of foreign customs and the graciousness of honoring them. I pointed out that there is a practical reason as well: the space, whether it is someone’s home or the sacred arena of the Noh stage, keeps cleaner.

We went on to have great class, wrapping students in beautiful silk kimono and exploring the classic 15th century beauty of the Noh ko-omote mask. We tried on the postures of a few of the Kyogen stock characters – master, servant, priest, woman – and discussed their status in Japanese feudal society. We explored the extreme and fairly silly vocal stylization of the riddle dance, “Usagi,” and asked the students if they had ever experienced a kind of beauty they might call Yugen.

Yu: deep, quiet, otherworldly
Gen: subtle, profound, dark

(This was all part of the lesson plan. I did not expect to include a lesson on observing manners and having respect for other cultures, but when it just came up, it presented the ideal opportunity to make the point.)

Mixed Media with Mill Valley Middle School’s Special Day Class


VSA Mentor Artist:  Marty Meade

Children with Developmental Delays

After several years of working with the special day class at Mill Valley Middle School, I love the connection that  is made, usually after the second week.

We had fun playing with a form of block printing using foam core for the design, rolling ink with brayers and then using another brayer to apply the print. I was pleased when a boy who was difficult to reach asked for more paper and different colors.

Watercolor landscapes were created from photographs from my personal photo library.  Students used Q-tips to apply paint in the pointilist style.  It was interesting to see students carefully studying their photo, and then painting what they observed.

Glass fusing continues to be fun, and we were able to do spend several days on this medium.

We also practiced with acrylic painting, watercolors, oil pastels, tissue collages, plastic laminate paper, and Shrinky Dinks’.

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