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Raining Colors! at San Marin High School

Collaboration and problem solving, self-advocacy & awareness, and building new art skills were among Mentor Artist Lisa Summers’ exciting student goals in Brian Khoury’s class at San Marin High School. Through YIA’s Arts Unite Us program, Lisa worked with students in small groups for the first several weeks on skill-building lessons and projects that emphasized how we recognize emotions through facial expressions and how those facial expressions are communicated in art. Students used cardboard shapes and scraps (and Googly eyes!) to assemble faces that evoked emotions ranging from joy, sadness, humor and anger, to frustration, curiosity, and confusion by looking at the relative position of eyes (up eyes, down eyes, sideways eyes), eyebrows, and smiles vs. frowns.

In the second part of the residency students developed understanding of shapes, proportions, scale, shape, contrast and dimensional perspective by working with pastels and paint, Model Magic and blocks, collage, and even a stack of chocolate chips cookies.

Questions were focused on contrasts and comparisons between solids and patterns, opacity and translucency, two and three dimensions, and foreground and background. In the “Rainy Day” projects, students used patterned paper, colored paper, ink washes, pastels, metallic paint, and permanent markers to create a composition of a single figure standing in a downpour. Many students took this opportunity to explore rain gear fashion design including bat-themed umbrellas and raincoats. Students discussed shadows and negative space, and the visual impact of a gray-toned ink wash against the bright colors of the umbrella and raincoat. Students were asked to share their reflections on how their artwork said something unique about themselves, their interests, and their individual preferences for colors and materials.

A special thanks to the following organizations for making this program possible:

Novato High School – The Persona and the Self

Students in Maria Romero’s class at Novato High School worked with Mentor Artist Lisa Summers through YIA’s  Arts Unite Us (AUU) program. Lisa designed lessons around prompts and activities that used old photos, pieces of familiar toys, quick dry clay, and pastels to explore themes of social justice, culture, and family. The first activity was a sketching challenge based on David Hockney’s Polaroid mosaics. Students and teachers created mosaic portraits using pencils and Lyra Graphite crayons on Post-It notes, copying from squares of cut up images of activists Malcom X, Dolores Huerta, and Julia Butterfly Hill. They were then tasked with reassembling the image as a group. When Post-It notes were matched up to corresponding squares, students reflected on how shapes, shadows, and lines come together to make a composite image.

In looking at a single Post-It note, is there another composition there? What different styles of interpretation can you see in individual drawings? What is different about a group portrait as opposed to one created by an individual artist?

Because several of Maria Romero’s students are in the MSA Visual Arts program, experience and skills varied widely in the class. The idea behind many of the activities and lessons was to experiment different styles, collaborative art-making, and as an opportunity to look at a face as a way of familiarizing oneself with the “other,” even when that other is the self.

 

Thank you to the following organizations for making this program possible: 

 

Arts Unite Us at San Marin High

Lisa Summers, a teaching poet and artist, worked with two special day classes at San Marin High School through our Arts Unite Us program to create work representing “spirit animals.” In Brian Khoury’s class, students practiced observational drawing skills including gestural drawings, calligraphic imagery using handmade bamboo pens and inks, and learned to make patterns. After sewing lessons, students cut out spirit animals in felt, sewed and stuffed them, then displayed sketches, patterns, and sewn animals in the front office of the school.

 

Lisa explored the idea of a spirit animal with Steve Lamott’s class while they were reading Bless Me, Ultima by Rudolfo Anaya. In the novel, the curandera Ultima arrives with her spirit animal, the owl. Students considered what their protective spirit animal might be through lessons that ranged from gestural drawing to pen and ink to a group portrait project. In the second half of the residency, students prepared sketches for a triptych that displayed their spirit animal and elements of their “interior world” including landscapes, colors, and symbols that hold meaning for each of them. Students prepared and mixed colors, used collage techniques, and learned to transfer elements of their original sketches to the panels.

Lisa says, “I learned so much from working with Brian and Steve’s students about process, and the relationship between creative exploration and identity development. Brian’s students especially loved sharing their work with teachers and other San Marin students.” Selected works will be on display at Youth In Arts during the July exhibition.

 

Through the California Department of Education’s Student Support and Academic Enrichment (SSAE) grant that the Marin County Office of Education received, Youth in Arts was in multiple Special Day Classes this spring.

 

Arts Unite Us at Hamilton School

This Spring, Mentor Artist Lisa Summers worked with students at Hamilton Middle School to create multi-media projects based on the work of folk and vanguard artists through Youth in Arts’ Arts Unite Us program. Students started with metallic pens and black gesso boards to assign lines to words they felt best described them. Over the next several weeks, students used a bird pattern to create work inspired by Indian Gond art, a form of painting that is practiced by one of the largest tribes in India with whom it shares its name. We began by looking at examples of Gond paintings, and then started our own artworks by incorporating our individual “lines” into the composition.

We built upon these skills with exercises such as contour line drawing of faces and animals, in which we used unconventional drawing and painting utensils like sticks and cotton swabs to experiment with pattern, color theory, composition, geometric shapes and shadows. Students learned about graphic artists like Peter Max and self-taught artist Kiyoshi Awazu by making posters using collage and oil pastel. As a reflection exercise, students were asked to consider advertisements that use visual language and to evaluate their own work by asking questions such as: “What makes this pop? What gives this line or shape emphasis? What attracts you to these colors and the design? What do you think the message is?”

We had lively discussions about their work, and students were encouraged to revise if they felt a particular work was not complete. Classroom teacher Ms. Moon and staff jumped into the collage project as well. Examples of student artwork were hung in the front office, and many of the artworks created throughout the residency will be on display at Youth In Arts during the summer exhibition, “Outside the Lines: Collaborative Art in Special Day Classrooms” opening on July 31st, 2019 at the YIA gallery.

 

Through the California Department of Education’s Student Support and Academic Enrichment (SSAE) grant that the Marin County Office of Education received, Youth in Arts was in multiple Special Day Classes this spring.

 

Visual Arts at College of Marin

In Steve Maldonado’s class, Youth in Arts Mentor Artist Lisa Summers introduced students to a range of drawing and ink wash techniques to play with lines, shape, color, dimension, and perspective as part of this year’s Arts Unite Us residency at College of Marin. Throughout this ten-week program, students explored different ways of seeing, starting with a variety of graphite pencils and crayons and working on gaining exposure to more and more visual arts materials. We considered questions like: “Which one feels comfortable in your hand? Which one feels heavy or awkward? What kinds of lines to different kinds of pencils and pens make? What happens when you draw a face or an object without lifting your pencil from the paper? How do seemingly random lines and shapes organized into an image?”

Next we played with oil pastels and an ink wash. Students used simple wooden blocks to assemble familiar structures that they could draw using observational drawing techniques. During this exercise, we considered the following questions: “Where were the shadows? How do we make something become three dimensional?”

Following the observational drawing lesson, we continued learning with lines and shapes. After looking at a few examples from American artist, cartoonist and puppeteer Wayne White, students drew horizon lines to explore perspective using block letters that spelled out words they chose. Some of the questions we asked were: “What are some words people might use to describe you?” Or, “What’s your favorite pastime?”

Examples of student work from Steve’s COM class will be on display at Youth In Arts during the summer exhibition, “Outside the Lines: Collaborative Art in Special Day Classrooms” opening on July 31st, 2019.

 

Through the California Department of Education’s Student Support and Academic Enrichment (SSAE) grant that the Marin County Office of Education received, Youth in Arts was in multiple Special Day Classes this spring.