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Students Create Self-Portraits at Cascade Canyon

At Cascade Canyon, the theme of the 2018-2019 school year was “iterations.” Mentor artist Tracy Eastman worked with 7th and 8th graders over the course of eight weeks through our Artists in Schools residency program to build on this theme with project-based work in self-portraiture. Tracy shares: “We discussed how the students are at an age where self-identity is often being formed, reflected upon, and sometimes questioned. This was the notion that lead to having the students create self-portraits for our culminating art project.”

The project began with an exploration of color theory and painting techniques in order to provide a strong platform for understanding the artistic process. Each student mixed and created their own palette using only the primary colors, plus brown and white. They each created color tiles by combining complimentary colors and documenting the iterations of hues that were achieved. The students kept the color tiles for personal reference to assist them when creating hues for their portraits. The process of the self-portrait paintings began with each student being assigned a school iPad, with which they took a series of self-portrait photos to choose from.

Tracy then guided students through the process of applying an electronic grid over their photos using their iPads, which were then replicated manually by drawing the grid directly onto their canvases. Using the grid as a guide for shapes and proportions, the students sketched their portraits from their photo references.

They then used their knowledge of color theory and painting techniques to create skin tones and other hues to complete their self-portraits. Tracy remarks, “Each layer of paint changed the appearance of the paintings, creating various iterations throughout the process. While many students tried to create paintings that looked much like their photos, there were also some who decided to improvise and re-imagine aspects of their paintings to make them more personal.”

 

 

 

The portraits were hung and displayed in the school’s community room for the culminating event, showing each student’s self reflection and self expression. Great job Cascade Canyon!

Celebrating Teaching Artists at INSPIRE Opening

More than 70 teachers, students, parents, and community members came out to celebrate the opening of the INSPIRE teaching artists exhibition at the YIA gallery on Friday, December 14th. The event, held as part of Downtown San Rafael’s Second Fridays Art Walk, celebrated artwork from 25 teaching artists throughout Marin County. The reception offered a rare opportunity for the featured artists to catch-up and share tricks of the trade. Their lively conversation, and vibrant artwork certainly brightened up the rainy evening. Thank you teaching artists for all you do!

FEATURED ARTISTS
Barry Beach, Marin Academy
Deb Bennett, Jessica’s Haven
Katy Bernheim, Terra Linda High School
Cathy Bowman, Laurel Dell Elementary 
Beth Cederstrom, Sir Francis Drake High School
Martha Cederstrom, Sir Francis Drake High School
Gray Douglas, Tamalpais High School
Tracy Eastman, Cascade Canyon
Zach Gilmour, Tamalpais High School
Jill Hoefgen, DrawBridge
Julia James, Coleman Elementary & Cascade Canyon
Suzanne Joyal, Laurel Dell Elementary
Jackie La Lanne, Mill Valley School District
Liz Lauter, Redwood High School
Barbara Libby-Steinmann, Bacich Elementary
Jennifer Lipson, Saint Patrick School & Saint Anselm School
Taylor Mancini, Marin School for the Arts
Katya McCulloch, Marin Oaks & Loma Alta
Marty Meade, Compass Academy
Michele Montgomery, Kent Middle School
El Moody [Louis Murillo], Loma Alta
Cynthia Pepper, San Francisco Ballet
Josh Powell, James B. Davidson Middle School
Laurie Reemsnyder, Marin Catholic High School
Carina Ybarra, San Domenico School

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!

 

SR High Schoolers Design and Create Sign for YIA

By YIA Mentor Artist Tracy Eastman

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This past winter I had the privilege of working with four fun and friendly San Rafael High School students on creating signage for the Youth in Arts C Street studio and gallery.  The objective of the project was to design and create an eye-catching sign that grabs the attention of the public and invites them to come into the Youth in Arts studio to view and even create art.

The students first brainstormed how to visually portray what YIA is about (i.e. accessible art programs revolving around music, performing, and visual arts.)  They proposed various ideas and discussed the effectiveness of using certain visuals.    The students continued editing their ideas further until they had collaborated a harmonious design and composition.

Not having much experience using paints, the students spent some time familiarizing themselves with basic painting techniques before applying paint to the final surface.  We decided to paint the sign’s design on a canvas using acrylic paints and then have the image digitally reproduced with the Youth in Arts logo printed directly onto a sandwich board sign to be placed outside the YIA studio.

The final design of the sign (prior to the digital reproduction) was comprised of colorful music notes dripping with wet paint, theater masks, a violin with a pencil for a bow, a paint-filled drum being played with paintbrushes, and vibrant piano keys atop a pastel rainbow background.  The bold lines and pops of color will definitely grab the attention of the viewers and draw them in to learn more.  The art students fully enjoyed learning what it was like to design and paint like artists, wearing their smocks, using traditional painting palettes and techniques, and thoughtfully orchestrating their physical working positions to allow all four artists to work on the same canvas simultaneously.

 

 

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Visual Arts: Color Theory and Mural-Making at Canal Alliance

Mentor Artist, Tracy Eastman shares her experience working with middle school students at the Canal Alliance’s University Prep program —
     This past fall I had the privilege of teaching a mural-making project with middle school students at the Canal Alliance.  Our group was made up of four to six 7th-graders with little art experience, who explored an introduction to color theory, acrylic paint properties, and painting techniques.  The students and I first discussed the project of making a mural: how to portray ideas through images, who our audience would be, and observing the environment where the painting would be displayed.  The students put ideas and images together that reflected a healthy environment and community.  We used a projector to assist the budding young artists with determining composition and rendering certain aspects of the painting.  Although challenging at times, the students worked independently as well as a whole group, learning about teamwork.
     This would have been a big challenge for any group of student artists, but I would like to commend these particular students for taking on such a bold project with little to no prior knowledge of art.  I could definitely see a colorful transformation in each and every student, as they built confidence and learned to express themselves visually.  The final mural turned out beautifully!
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