917 "C" Street
San Rafael, California 94901
(415) 457-4878
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California Native Flower Garden Mural ​

By Mentor Artist Tracy Eastman

Short Elementary School’s 2nd and 5th grade “Green Team” were delighted to paint a large mural to brighten up their newly planted garden in the front of the school. Julie Ryan, the 2nd-grade teacher and leader of Green Team, and I decided the most fitting subject matter for the garden mural would be California native flowers, as that was what her students were currently studying. There was, however, a challenge with how and where to display a mural in their garden area. The portable building where the mural was to be painted was said to be transported to another school in the next couple years. For this reason, we opted for a portable mural that would be painted on two recycled vinyl banners. This would allow the 18-foot-long mural to be rolled up and transported to any new location.

     The students started out by looking at pictures of murals done by other artists, and by studying the names and distinctive characteristics of each native flower we were to include. They then practiced painting a flower or their own preferred subject on mini canvas sheets, allowing them to explore painting on the canvas-like texture of the banners.  First, students painted the entire primed surface with a bright blue color, serving as an underpainting. I then sketched a scene of native flowers and rolling hillsides for the students to follow painting. They began by painting the background of the sky above the hillsides and then continued to add specs of color at the tops of the hills. the specs of color grew larger and larger into the foreground to show all the details of the distinctive flowers up close. This created an illusion of depth and space, making it appear that the large flowers we see at the bottom of the image recede into the distance on the hillside toward the top of the image.
     The students did a marvelous job mixing various hues and applying the paint in layers to create a very bright and vivid mural. There were printed pictures of the specific flowers and their leaves set beside the students for them to refer to while they painted. The students greatly learned about the difference between Art that is created through free expression and Art that is focused on creating specifically recognizable subjects. Over the course of ten-45 minute student classes and many additional hours I devoted to planning and touch-ups, a beautiful and colorful mural was born. The once beige and bare wall in the garden at the front of the school now gleams with a vibrancy that is a breath of fresh air. All of the plants in the garden continue to grow large and healthy around the radiant mural of our state’s flowers, beautifully brightening up the community. Walk by and take a look!

 

Daisy Come Home: First Grade Storytelling with Laurel Dell First Graders

Students practiced sequencing (before and after), and also reflected on all of our recent work with observational drawing, imaginative monster drawing, horizon lines, landscapes, and color mixing as they worked in teams of 2 or 3 to imagine the adventure a horse might have in Daisy Come Home. We put all of the images together in a book for the classroom, and now they can practice writing to add words to their part of the story. These students participated in the Walker Rezaian Creative Hearts project last year, and we are able to build on all of their prior knowledge.

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Admiring Finished Paintings

Daisy Come Home, By Ms. Nunez’ first graders and Suzanne Joyal (A mostly true story).

A long time ago, before there were cars and lights and motors, my great-grandparents Josie and Buggy lived with their horse Daisy on a farm near the ocean. Every day when the weather was good, Buggie would load his tools onto his wagon, harness Daisy to the front, and ride to the dock at the edge of the ocean. He would load his tools onto his rowboat. Before he got in his boat to row to an island, he would pat Daisy on the rump, and say “Daisy Go Home!”

And every day, Daisy would go straight home to Josie. At the end of the day, Josie would pat Daisy on the rump again, and send her back to the dock to bring Buggie home.

Until the day she didn’t come straight home, and went on an adventure all by herself! No one knows what she did. Where would YOU go if you were Daisy?

Following are a few of the imaginings of Ms. Nunez’ students. Daisy changed colors, went to the mountains, ate some apples and blueberries, made some friends, walked through a snow storm, went to Chuckie Cheese’s, got lost in a rainforest, and even met some dinosaurs!

Thank you for your support, California Arts Council!

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Theatre at Davidson Middle School

By Mentor Artist Margaret Hee

Attending Davidson Middle was not easy for me. I moved to CA at age twelve after my parent’s divorce and became caught up with a rebellious crowd. The summer after my 7th grade year my mother stuck me in theatre camp and it quite literally saved me. This past year (a good 17 years later) when Youth in Arts reached out to me about teaching theatre at Davidson I jumped on the opportunity. I hoped that if theatre helped me in my pre teen years, certainly it could help some other young creative minds at Davidson Middle School.

A lot has changed since I attended Davidson: it is a much safer environment with a plethora of resources. I had the opportunity to teach 180 ELD students across 5 classes 3 days a week and what I came to realize is that students really want to be heard. My initial approach was to teach theatre in the way I know best: with warm up, games, generative theatre exercises and rehearsal. Within a week it became clear that the students were not remotely interested in what I was offering. Given that they did not know me and I did not know them, I began having group conversations focused on their interests and concerns. Many of the students felt a lot of pressure in their academic classes and relished the opportunity to simply “free draw” or voice their opinions about what was happening in the world.

Instead of forcing self conscious students  to act in from of one another, we created stories and utilized shadow puppets as a mode of performance. They all responded to visual art, so with the help of Suzanne Joyal the students created their own individual Italian Street Paintings inspired by the prompt “We Dream of a World”. As noted before I led several group discussions and from these I compiled a group narrative monologue and then taught the students how to do voice-over recording to document the piece.

The highlight of the semester was when I brought a group of students from Redwood High School to present a production I had directed them in. Following the performance the Redwood students played games with the Davidson students and taught them movement exercises and stage combat.

This was ultimately the most challenging teaching experience I have had, but rewarding on many levels. Upon reflection at the end of the semester the students commented the following:

What brought us joy
I enjoyed everything we did. Love you Ms. Margaret!
I enjoyed the Italian Street Painting
I enjoyed the Redwood High School students and the teachers
The movies we watched
The theatre games!
Taking pictures with the cameras
Using shadow puppets
Having some freedom!
Making a poster using magazines
Working on projects with friends
Meeting new people

What we learned
Art can make you happy
How to tell stories through creativity
How to not be shy
I learned how to be responsible, respectful and most importantly to laugh!
I learned about foreshadowing
How to take photos and how to edit
How to create shadow puppets. That was fun!
Picture is texture
I learned how to communicate with others
I learned cooperation, friendship and being respectful
How to take pictures from different angles
I learned about balance in pictures
I learned that we should all have equal rights
I learned about different light and shade in pictures
Art!
To be creative
How to play the game BANG
This year I learned that you should treat others the way you want to be treated because it does not feel good when people say bad things to you

Oak Hill Students Explore Painting and Sculpture

By Mentor Artist Cathy Bowman

For the past year, Oak Hill students have been exploring painting and sculpture. We ended the year with a student exhibit that featured several exciting projects. The display featured masks, paintings, drawings and two collaborative works based on the number paintings of artist Jasper Johns. It was important for students to get a chance to survey their own work as well as the art made by their friends. It was hard not to touch the art!

One of the projects the students liked best was using tape to separate space on pieces of canvas. The artists applied oil pastels and paint; once dry, they removed the tape. Some students enjoyed pulling off the tape more than painting! There were surprises of color and lines everywhere, and decisions to be made about whether to leave parts of the canvas bare. We finished off the project by using letter stencils. The artists were very creative and used the stencils randomly, rather than spelling out recognizable words or names.

Another popular project was making sculptures based on the work of Alberto Giacometti. Students began by making wire forms and then covering them with foil and clay. Once the clay dried, the sculptures were painted. Some students made human forms while others created animals.

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Italian Street Painting

By Mentor Artist Cathy Bowman

Recently I worked with a team of San Rafael High School students as part of Italian Street Painting Marin. During a five-day workshop, artists learned to design, grid and create a chalk painting. The festival draws artists from all over the world, and this year’s theme –The Wonders of Space and Time – gave us a lot to think about.

“Space is the void of warmth and an engulfing darkness that is both terrifying and mystical at once,” wrote one of the YIA artists.  “When I imagine space, I think of planets, stars and black holes. I think of the mysticality of space and the wonders it offers.”

While many artists painted important scientific figures, such as Stephen Hawking, our team created a montage of images. They called the piece, “Beautiful Chaos.” The painting showed space in the center. Around the edges, vines and roots of trees took over parts of earth polluted with items such as an old car, a discarded can and cigarette butts. A big challenge was decided what colors to use – and working in the heat! Students were flexible and generous with each other, making changes when necessary and helping each other along the way.

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first draft in drawing form

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Drawing with color

 

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