Archive for the 'Classes' Category

Pastel – Expressive and Brilliant

No Agenda by Tammy Papa

No Agenda by Tammy Papa, the painting that was accepted into the Appalachain National Pastel Society 2012 Show.

“What is Pastel?”

I am asked this question a lot.

People think of soft, light colors when they hear the word pastel.

I like to explain that the origin of the word pastel comes from the French word pastische, via the Italian word pastello, meaning paste.  As pastels are made, powdered pigment is combined with water and binder, which turns into a paste. The paste is then rolled out into sticks and dried. The softer the pastel, the more pigment it has and the less binder. Pastels are made from the same pigment used in other mediums such as oil, watercolor, and acrylic, but the pigment is held together with a light glue or binder called methylcellulose.

Many people confuse soft pastels with oil pastels. Instead of the light glue, oil pastels are made with beeswax, pigment, and other chemicals and have a waxy, crayon-like character.  Soft pastels and oil pastels are not the same and cannot be combined.

Whenever I do a pastel demonstration, I often get the question, “Is that chalk?”  I say, “Well, it may look like chalk, but it isn’t. Chalk is made of limestone and dye. Pastels are almost pure pigment.”

pastels

A colorful array of soft pastel (not chalk) in an artist’s tool box

This is one of the reasons people love pastels . . . the pure, brilliant colors. In fact, under the microscope a particle of pastel pigment has facets like a diamond. They have light-scattering properties and practically shimmer!

Another question people frequently ask is “Do you teach art lessons?” The answer is “Yes!” Teaching art started organically for me. As it turns out, I love to share information. I studied Studio Art at the University of South Carolina and worked as an Art Director for Rawle Murdy for years before dedicating myself to painting full time in 1996. During art shows and gallery openings, I found myself sharing more and more information with anyone and everyone that asked. My friends encouraged me to start an art class. So, I started doing demonstrations and workshops, and my classes grew. I have taught many classes locally and internationally including in Charleston, the Southeast, and in Spain.

Since art is my passion, I am gratified to share my knowledge and help people explore their authentic ‘art spirit’ and voice. I feel each person has their own artistic voice, just like everyone has their own handwriting. And each of us in the arts has an art spirit. I think teachers can squash a student’s art spirit pretty easily if they are overly critical too soon. It takes a lot of bravery to even go to an art class. I don’t want to teach people to paint like me. I want them to paint as themselves, their expression. One of my favorite books is the Art Spirit by Robert Henri—my approach comes from his amazing teachings. So many people say, “Oh, I can’t even draw a stick figure.” I always say, “You are probably more creative than you know. Anyone can learn to draw!” In short, I love to learn and I love to share what I have learned.

As an artist and a teacher, I continue to seek new information and inspiration. One of the most inspiring events for me was the Pastel Society of America’s 2013 National Show – Enduring Brilliance. From over 1,000 pastels entered, the judges chose 175. I was over the moon to be included in this competitive show. The show is held each year at the National Arts Club at Gramercy Park in New York City, and judged by master pastelists. It is a diverse and exciting show featuring a wide range of styles from highly representational to abstract.

Tammy Papa in New York

Tammy Papa at the National Arts Club in New York. The artist’s pastel painting, “Morning Mist on the Edisto” (above) was included in the Pastel Society of America’s 41st Annual Open Juried Exhibition in 2013.

My daughter, sister, and niece accompanied me to New York to see the show. We had a girls’ weekend, attending the reception and basking in the excitement. As I was entering the beautiful and sumptuous Grand Gallery of the National Arts Club, I could barely contain myself. The pieces were inspiring, diverse, and moving. Master pastelist Richard McKinley, PSA, gave a critique during the reception, which was a class in art appreciation itself. I oohed and aahed over the amazing works of art AND all the pastels supplies for sale—an artist can never have too many pastels! I returned to Charleston with renewed energy and perspective to share with my students.

I am very proud to be affiliated with and teach for the Gibbes Museum. Through the classes at the Hazel Parker Community Center, I am able to give back to the community and share my passion for art and the pastel medium. I have been fortunate to have amazing teachers. It is my hope to pass it on.

I am currently represented by Sandpiper Gallery on Sullivan’s Island and Edward Dare Gallery on Broad Street in downtown Charleston, SC. Please visit www.tammypapa.com to see additional examples of my work. And I hope you will sign up for a class at the Gibbes!

Tammy Papa, Artist, Teacher, and Guest Blogger

Make Your Own Wave: Japanese Woodblock Printmaking with Kate MacNeil

Distinction, by Kate MacNeil

Distinction, 2013, by Kate MacNeil

 

Woodblock printmaking is an ancient art that was used as early as the eighth century in Japan to reproduce written texts. As technology evolved, printmakers were able to work with a range of colors to create romantic landscapes and historical events. On January 17th, we opened The Great Wave: Japonisme in Charleston that features a variety of woodblock prints from the museum’s permanent collection. We always work to include interesting programs and events that relate to our exhibitions, and this weekend we are partnering with Redux Contemporary Art Center to host Make Your own Wave: Curator-led Tour and Woodblock Printmaking Demonstration. Sara Arnold, Gibbes Curator of Collections, will lead a private tour of the exhibition, and later guests will travel to Redux for a printmaking demonstration by local artist Kate MacNeil. Kate was gracious enough to take some time to speak with me about her work and creative process.
 

Kate MacNeil in her studio

Kate MacNeil in her studio.

Q. You studied printmaking at the College of Charleston. What drew you to that medium?

There’s a bit of a printmaking history in my family. My mother studied printmaking at the College of Charleston back in the day, and my aunt and uncle operate Abaca Press in Buffalo, NY. So it’s definitely something I grew up with. Beyond that, it’s an incredibly complex medium with a wide range of techniques available to interpret my imagery. I love the versatility that it offers and the dedication to process it requires.

Q. Tell me about your process.

For me, I start by building an image in my sketchbook, and from there I determine how I want to interpret it. Recently, I’ve been working a lot with intaglio, which gives me the opportunity to create some really detailed line work. It changes from image to image, though. The important thing for me is to constantly keep making images, whether drawing, printing or painting, good or bad, in the hopes of finding something real. It’s all research.

Q. Tell me about the current relevance of printmaking in today’s artistic community.

Printmaking is everywhere. Whether it’s a screen-printed poster, or a letterpress wedding invitation, or a lithographed nautical map. I think people are surprised when they realize how vast and prominent of a medium printmaking is. It’s an integral part of human history and I think it’s only natural that it continues to play a part in the art world. New techniques are constantly being invented and it gives artists a wide range to interpret their work.

 

The Ink Jar, by Kate MacNeil

The Ink Jar, 2013, by Kate MacNeil

 

Q. Are you inspired by the Japanese prints or have you studied them previously? In looking at the prints in the museum’s permanent collection, how (if at all) do they speak to your own work?

I have had a few opportunities to view of some of the Japanese woodblock prints in the Gibbes’ collection. They are simply breathtaking, especially when you realize how much work and expertise was put into each and every print. I was inspired to take a workshop this past summer on Japanese woodblock printing, and I’m eager to continue working within that medium (Though I doubt I will ever be considered a Master Carver/Printer!).

 

Bats and Moon, n. d. By Katsushika Hokusai (Japanese, 1760–1849) Woodblock on paper Image courtesy of the Gibbes Museum of Art/ Carolina Art Association

Bats and Moon, n. d., by Katsushika Hokusai (Japanese, 1760–1849)

 

Q. What will this workshop involve?

I think Make Your Own Wave will give people a great deal of insight on the Japanese woodblock prints. They play an interesting part in world history, starting in Japan and moving to Europe to inspire many Impressionist and Post-Impressionist artists. For my part, I will be demonstrating how these prints would have been created, and giving participants a chance to make their own print. I really think people will walk away with a greater appreciation of the Japanese woodblock print and hopefully printmaking in general.

Thanks Kate for your time! We will continue to explore the Japanese culture with a cooking demonstration at Southern Season in Mt. Pleasant on February 15 at 5pm. For more information please visit our calendar at gibbesmuseum.org/events.

Amy Mercer, Marketing and Communications Manager, Gibbes Museum of Art

Arts Education: A Continuing Legacy at the Gibbes

Arts education has always been central to the mission of the Gibbes Museum of Art. In 1912, the Charleston Sketch Club was formed and aspired to be “the basis of an art school where the fine arts in all branches should be taught by the best of teachers in the Gibbes art building.” With exhibition space, lecture room, and art studios, the museum was a hub for local artists and art supporters. Archival photographs show artists poised in front of their easels in a museum classroom in 1910. Another photograph shows artist Minnie Mickell working in the Gibbes Art Gallery Studio in 1925. By 1965, in need of additional exhibition space, the museum purchased 76 Queen Street, now the popular Husk restaurant, for its school of art. Studio art classes included drawing, painting, printmaking, photography, and clay and were held in this location for many years. As a college graduate in 1993, I took a drawing class in the Queen Street studio. Little did I know that nearly 20 years later, I would be an employee at the museum—a dream come true! Arts education has always been a vital part of the museum no matter where the actual classes have been held, and this focus on art education continues today.

Minnie Michael at work

Minnie Michael painting in the Gibbes Art Gallery.

Recent research from a partnership between the University of Arkansas and Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art has validated this mission through a large-scale, random-assignment study of school tours to the museum. Researchers were able to determine that strong relationships exist between arts education and a range of desirable outcomes. In other words, art makes students smart!

In an ongoing partnership with Charleston County School District Title I schools, the Gibbes education outreach program, Art to Go, combines art making and instruction through firsthand experiences with works of art. The goal of the program is to increase understanding of visual expression, creativity, and art. Gibbes Teaching Artists work with public schools to enhance the schools’ art curriculum. Through this program, the museum’s notable collection is explored as part of the instruction along with a field trip to the museum. All lessons are designed to broaden students’ understanding of art principles, art history, and creative expression.

A mosaic created for the 2012 Charleston Marathon

A mosaic created for the 2012 Charleston Marathon by Mitchell Elementary School students.

Art to Go has been implemented in five local Title I schools including Angel Oak, Murray LaSaine, Mitchell, Pinehurst, and Goodwin Elementary. “Our Art to Go program has been a great success year after year. It’s a wonderful partnership and collaborative effort that enhances the visual arts curriculum,” says Gibbes Museum Curator of Education, Rebecca Sailor.

Art to Go program at Angel Oak Elementary.

Students at work in the Art to Go program at Angel Oak Elementary.

Local artist and Gibbes Museum teaching artist Kristen Solecki has been involved in the Art To Go program for two years. She appreciates the access to fine arts and art education that the program provides to her students. “However, perhaps even more importantly it gives them confidence and pride,” she adds. This year Kristen is teaching at Angel Oak Elementary on Johns Island, a Title 1 neighborhood school that serves approximately 350 students.

“One week we learned about printmaking. This is a very forgiving medium and allows students to create abstract pieces using simple line and form. Students were so excited to reveal their prints and to show each other what they made. They would encourage each other and tell one another, ‘great job!’ ‘Wow! Look at hers!’ Some students would even ask me to show their work to siblings who were coming into the next class after them. The best part is seeing the same students later in the day walking around with their work still in hand.”

Kristen explains that her students have also been working on a mosaic mural where each child’s hand painted work makes up a piece of the giant mosaic. “We have assembled it and each child’s work is crucial because without it our mural will be missing a piece. This mutual respect between peers, teachers, and students, is wonderful. Art class encourages students to experiment, express their ideas, and to create. There is not a stress on perfection, it is a medium to celebrate who you are. When I walk through the halls on the way to class, students stop me and ask if I will be coming to their class today, and that they cannot wait for art.  I don’t think you could ask for anything better.”

Art to Go at Angel Oak Elementary

Artwork from the 2013 Art to Go program at Angel Oak Elementary.

For several years the museum has collaborated with the Charleston Marathon, which benefits the Youth Endowment for the Arts, a local non-profit that supports fine arts programming in Charleston County Schools. Gibbes Teaching Artists work with schools to create structures designed for the race expo that signifies the marathon’s purpose: Going the Distance for the Arts. Dr. James Braunreuther, Charleston County Fine Arts Learning Specialist says,

“The Charleston Marathon and the Gibbes Art to Go programs were both designed to offer greater opportunities in the arts for the children of Charleston County. It is only logical that these two tremendous programs would work together to increase the impact of both. The Charleston Marathon raises funds to support arts programs while increasing awareness of the importance of health and movement. The Gibbes museum supports this effort by working with schools to produce art work that highlights the athlete in the artist and the artistry of the athlete.”

This year’s marathon takes place the weekend of January 17–18 and the student’s artwork will be exhibited at the Health and Fitness Expo on Friday, January 17, 2014, held in the gymnasium at Burke Middle High School, 244 President Street. Come out and see the beautiful and creative art work the students have created. Enjoy the rewards of an arts education and maybe you’ll decide to enroll in a class yourself! To see a full listing of our studio art classes visit gibbesmuseum.org/events.

Amy Mercer, marketing and communications manager, Gibbes Museum of Art

Changing the World through the Visual Arts

Nelson Mandela Education quote

Nelson Mandela on the importance of education.

Last week the world lost Nelson Mandela; a great man who left a significant mark not only on the world, but on humanity. At the time of his death, my ten-year-old daughter noticed all of the news coverage and inquired about him. What did he do? Why was he important? Of course, I provided her with a basic summary that she might be able to comprehend, but then I began to consider the larger themes reflected by this person and his role in the history of humankind. As he stated, “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.”

This year the American Academy of Arts and Sciences published a study on the significance of the humanities. In this study entitled The Heart of the Matter, and the partnering video, the value of humanities is reflected upon as it serves to “remind us where we have been and help us envision where we are going.” Screenwriter and Director George Lucas shares his thoughts on the importance of science and technology in partnership with the humanities by saying, “science is the how and the humanities are the why.” He then argues “we cannot have the how without the why.” As a liberal arts major, I find it particularly disturbing that according to the study, “less than a quarter of 8th and 12th grade students are proficient in reading, writing, and civics.” The study goes on to say that “three out of four employers want schools to place more emphasis on the skills that the humanities and social sciences teach: critical thinking and complex problem-solving, as well as written and oral communication.”

The visual arts are a significant component of the humanities and decades of studies reveal that effective arts education promotes self-directed learning, sharpens critical skills, develops self-awareness, and improves school attendance. Yet a recent study from the National Endowment for the Arts on The Arts and Achievement in At-Risk Youth tells us that “nearly four million elementary school students do not get any visual arts instruction at school during their formative learning years.” In recent weeks, a number of articles have been published, such as the New York Times article entitled Art Makes You Smart, that emphasize the critical need for humanities programs including arts education. How will a ten-year old like my daughter be able to better understand the future world and her place without subjects like history and art?

Ashley River School group

Elise Detterbeck with students from Ashley River Creative School of the Arts.

To me the Gibbes Museum is a center for creativity that addresses these issues by offering solutions and resources. Museums are places where education thrives, and the Gibbes is no exception. It is a place that combines the how and the why. James Shoolbred Gibbes, who founded the museum after Reconstruction, envisioned a locus for creative capital in Charleston, and by providing it, he hoped to retain the area’s best and brightest minds. The academy-style institution he established continues this tradition to this day. Arts education remains central to the mission of the Gibbes and serves as a center of creativity for students and adults. From in-school programs such as Art to Go, Eye Spy, and Eye Opener, developed in conjunction with S.C. Learning Standards, to on-site museum programs such as Courage by the Sea: Revolutionary Tales of the Gibbes Family, where students become actors in a drama that traces the history of Charleston from the Revolutionary War to the dawning of the Civil War, these outstanding programs allow students within our community to stretch their minds and develop their potential.

At this time of year, I always reflect upon the past year and count my blessings. I can truly say that I am happy to have a place like the Gibbes Museum that stimulates innovation and discussion and offers our community a place to integrate our past with our future. I encourage you to take part in one of our many programs and to help share these programs with others. I also thank you for continually supporting the Gibbes and transforming education in the Lowcountry for generations to come.

Jennifer Ross, major gifts and grants consultant, Gibbes Museum of Art

The More You Stare, the More You See

The Anatomy drawing class for third through eighth graders, held on Tuesdays at Hazel Parker Community Center, studied the process of eighteenth century landscape painting without the use of the camera. Each week students selected various objects from nature to incorporate into a scene that they envisioned to paint. Students learned to employ different media that are commonly used for collecting data for final paintings. The first week we used graphite, charcoal, and white conté; the second week we used pen and ink material; the third we used watercolor; and the fourth week we used acrylics to create a finished painting.

The second week, the weather was at its best so the students and I were outside at Hazel Park. We worked on developing our ability to focus more closely on the details of objects in nature. As part of our study, we chose various trees to observe and determined the angle of direction for each one. Next we determined what side the shadows were located on the trunks of the trees and how many highlights we saw. The drawings below are some of the results from our enjoyable nature study.

My experience as an artist, and for all artists, is to build observation skills. The more that I have practiced viewing objects, people, and environments from life, the better I can read and see detail which then translates into seeing color. During our anatomy lessons, I showed students how to break down what they see in into basic shapes, and how defining those shapes leads to viewing details. This process helps students gain confidence to put what they see on paper, but they have to get past the obvious. As aspiring artists, we all can see, but we have to look more closely to make our works come to life and create the believable.

Charles Williams, teaching artist and guest blogger

Drawing at Your Own Level, with Lese Corrigan

Since 1988, I have had the privilege of teaching classes through the Gibbes Museum of Art. Young, old and in between, my students have been enlightening and challenging with many becoming long-term friends, supporters and collectors. Drawing and painting classes for all ages, photography classes for teenagers, summer camps, printmaking for camp and teenagers, an hour here, nine hours there—they have all been fun, educational times for me as much as the students.

pencil grades

An example of different pencil grades; dark to light from left to right.

Drawing implements: graphite sticks, charcoal, and pencils.

Drawing implements: graphite sticks, charcoal, and numbered pencils.

The class I teach these days for the Gibbes is held at Corrigan Gallery and is limited in number so that no one has to carry tables and chairs around to make it possible. This creates an intimate setting for developing or expanding one’s drawing abilities and creative talents. I designed it to adjust to each student’s needs and levels. In many ways, the start of my 25 years of teaching was the result of filling in the gaps in my own art education. I loved studying about the materials available, how they developed and were made, and then having the students experiment with them so that they could begin the steps towards mastery of them. With my classes, I evaluate the students and have them gauge themselves, as well as give them the chance to say where they would like to go with their skills and what their ultimate goals are. The classes are short, as people’s lives are so busy now, and participants can escape easily taking with them the tools to better drawing!

A blind contour drawing of a stool.

A blind contour drawing of a stool.

Until recently, the basic drawing class used a chair as the subject for the first half of the series and then a lovely, decrepit old bicycle for the second half. Oh, what moans and groans when we switched to the bike! Yet, by the end of the session, the students felt the bike was much easier to conquer than the chair. We still use a chair or stool for the class and then move on to whatever surprise is necessary to challenge the individuals, sometimes with different subjects for each student. During the three-week session, we focus on moving the individual student’s skill to a level beyond their current one versus the exploration of materials.

French Cups in pencil by Lese Corrigan (c) 2000

Stacked French Cups, 2000, in pencil by Lese Corrigan.

Pencil sketch of a dog, 2013, by Lese Corrigan

Pencil sketch of a dog, 2013, by Lese Corrigan.

As I firmly believe drawing is the basis of all art (yes, even of abstraction)—and that we must all learn to recreate the literalness of what we see before us before we move beyond the veil of reality to something more ethereal—the class is about drawing what we see. Approaching the delicate balance of pushing past barriers and frustration, we seek to hone our eyes and skills (and yes, you already have skills… you can sign your name can’t you?). The process and methods are very simple, but take a great deal of practice to put us where we wish to be in our creative process. From blind contour drawings through sketches to finished pieces, we explore our own mark making. Come try it—with a three-week class of one and a half hours each week, it cannot hurt, but it sure can help!

Lese Corrigan, artist and owner of Corrigan Gallery, and guest blogger

Visit the Gibbes Museum online calendar of events to register for this and other studio art classes.

Summer Fundays

Campers create artist palettes.

Campers create artist palettes.

Summer Art Camp may just be my favorite part of my job. With six weeks of camp throughout June and July I have plenty of opportunities to be around the excited 4–12 year olds. I guess you could say it takes me back to my teaching days, and even though I am not the camp teacher I get to meet and greet the children and their parents and oversee the days. We always have returning campers that I have enjoyed watching grow not only physically but also as artists.

At some point during the week the campers are brought from Circular Congregational Church classrooms to the museum galleries. Watching the way they engage with the artwork, it is so different from our school group tours. The campers are in summer mode and typically are more talkative. They have become instant buddies with one another and their camp teacher seems to be thought of as more fun than their school teacher. At the end of each week, a mini exhibition is held in the classrooms so parents and friends can view the artwork that has been created. It is amazing to see all that is accomplished in five days.

Designing a Charleston Single House.

Designing a Charleston Single House.

Teaching camp for the first time this summer is our wonderful teaching artist, Chessie McGarity. She has worked with the Gibbes for a year on our Art to Go program and has taught our Painting the Masters class. She has a great line-up of camp session themes including Art of the Ancient World, Go Green, and Charleston Gardens and Wildlife. Each session will include its own unique aspects of visual art education.

Lucky for you we still have spots available in some of the sessions! Don’t miss the opportunity to register your child, grandchild, niece, nephew, or any child you think would benefit from a fun-filled week of art education with the Gibbes Museum of Art! Call 843-722-2706 x41 or email me rsailor@gibbesmuseum.org. I would love to get to know the special child you have in mind!

—Rebecca Sailor, Associate Curator of Education

You can also download a camp registration form from our website.

“EYE SPY” Something Fun in the Classroom

When I was asked to write a post for the Gibbes Museum’s blog I was very excited. It’s fun to be able to share the terrific pilot project I am doing called ”EYE SPY.” This new program teaches art history to students in local elementary schools using the Gibbes collection.

Debby Passo in the classroom at St. Andrew's Math and Science Elementary School.

I moved to Charleston from Ohio three years ago and decided I wanted to bring a project into the Charleston schools drawing from my experience as an art history minor in college. I approached the Gibbes and worked with Rebecca Sailor, Associate Curator of Education, and Elise Detterbeck, a Museum Educator, for over a year to launch EYE SPY. I am grateful to both ladies, especially to Rebecca for her hard work to secure a grant from the C. Louis Meyer Family Foundation which provides funding for us to partner with two schools this year. Elise teaches at Springfield Elementary School, and I work at St. Andrews Math and Science Elementary School with a wonderful art teacher named Valerie Garrison. My approach is to compare and contrast works of art from the Gibbes with the artworks of some of the most recognized masters of the 20th century, which was my emphasis in college.

I visit the second and third grade art classrooms once a month. The importance of having an art teacher who is enthusiastic and supportive of this project is essential. For this first year, Mrs. Garrison and I selected a theme of famous artists’ birthdays. In the classroom, Mrs. Garrison displays many pictures of iconic artworks so it has been fun to use these in our project. Each month I select one or two masters who have a birthday that month. I then pick an artist from the collection of the Gibbes Museum and help the students to identify some similarities and differences between the two artists’ works. I emphasize the fundamental elements of art, such as basic shapes, lines, colors, and styles. The goal is for students begin to appreciate and talk about the art. Fortunately, the creative hands-on aspect of the class is left up to Mrs. Garrison.

This has been wonderful for both the students and me. I spend a great deal of time preparing because I am still learning about our treasured artworks in the Gibbes Museum. The reward—after only a few months—is encouraging a dialogue between the students, and expanding their world of discovery. It is so exciting to see their hands go up to share an idea or a question. They are incredibly focused on each piece of art and they want to know the backgrounds of the artists—mostly when and where they were born and how old they were when they died. They remember previous works that we have studied, and they bring these ideas into our discussions. I have introduced the works of Picasso, Matisse, Cézanne, Monet, and Pollock, comparing them to works by Jonathan Green, Merton Simpson, Alice Ravenel Huger Smith, and William Halsey. Sometimes I forget that these students are only second and third graders with their remarkable comments and pertinent thoughts. It was a nice reminder to me of their ages when after only one class they wanted to know if I had met any of these artists—imagine how old they must think I really am!

I am looking forward to the remainder of the school year. The time goes by so quickly because we are so engaged in discussion and the groups stay very attentive. I feel so fortunate to be able share my love of art history with these students and in return I am the one being rewarded by their enthusiasm. They are looking forward to their visit to the Gibbes, which is funded by the grant. Some of these students have never been to a museum and I cannot wait to see their faces when they see some of the paintings in person that we have discussed in class. Working with the museum, I hope to expand this pilot program to reach more students with the aid of additional funding and volunteers. There is nothing more thrilling than watching the smiles on the faces of these students as they explore the grand world of art.

Debby Passo, museum educator and guest blogger

To learn more about EYE SPY and other in-school programs organized by the Gibbes Museum of Art, please contact Associate Curator of Education Rebecca Sailor at rsailor@gibbesmuseum.org or 843.722.2706 x41.

Going Back to School: The College of Charleston at the Gibbes

This Fall, the Gibbes Museum was the host site for the College of Charleston class for Art History/Studio Art (340/335), on Wednesdays from 1:15 to 4:00. Gibbes Fellows and Museum Educators were offered the opportunity to audit the class alongside the college students. I was excited to take advantage of the access to professors Marion Mazzone and John Hull, but knew that “going back to school” would present me with multiple challenges. I felt prepared for the art history content, however the in-gallery drawing assignments were very intimidating. Having never participated in a studio art class, I found the sketching of art works in the museum difficult at first. However, I persevered, and with the help of Professor Hull, I discovered I could actually draw. Through this experience, I developed a new appreciation for composition and all the elements that contribute to a finished work of art.

The Source, 1914, by Edward Middleton Manigault

As a class, we were able to view many art objects from the museums archives, as well as those on display in the galleries. The art-historical insight that Professor Mazzone shared about often unseen works of art in the museum’s collection was extremely enlightening and useful to me as a museum educator. I began to relate to works of art that I had previously passed by in my tours. Of particular interest was The Source, by Edward Middleton Manigault, located in the main hallway on the first floor. I had previously avoided the dark and foreboding scene, but with Professor Mazzone’s help I came to appreciate the artist’s use of color—specifically, the blending of various shade of blues and greens throughout the painting. Manigault’s choice of subject matter reflects back to the classical period of art and the influences of Greek mythology. I realized how lucky we are to have this artist’s work at the Gibbes, because his works are relatively few and highly esteemed.

I am already looking forward to auditing another College of Charleston art class in the future, perhaps to test some of my new found skills.

Annette Wanick, Gibbes museum educator and guest blogger

Learn about other continuing education classes at the Gibbes Museum on our website calendar.

Making Time for Art

The watercolor studio

Instructor Mary Lou Bloise (center) shares information with students.

I saw an announcement in the Post and Courier about a watercolor class at the studio of Mary Lou Bloise offered by the Gibbes Museum of Art. The notice intrigued me. I hadn’t had much experience with watercolor except for a brief six-week period on a cruise ship, offered as an enrichment program while at sea. I enjoyed the experience and upon my return to Charleston, I rushed to purchase art paper, watercolors, brushes, and books. I even bought a DVD with watercolor instructions, but as time passed, I never opened my supplies. My enthusiasm for this art medium had been replaced with day-to-day busyness and my art supplies sat on a shelf. I decided to sign up for the classes offered by the Gibbes. I was excited to reunite with my old friend watercolor! The day before the first class I drove to the location to be certain I knew exactly where it was and how long it would take me to get there. I took my art supplies off the shelf, placed them in a canvas bag, and I was ready to start.

When I arrived for the first class, I was greeted by the warm, smiling, friendly face of the instructor Mary Lou Bloise. Her inviting demeanor made me feel at home. The space was set up as an artist’s studio and her love of art infused the room. There were five students in the group and Mary Lou gently guided us. My earlier watercolor experience came back to me, although it was very elementary, and I was open and willing to learn more.

The first lesson was about brush strokes. We were instructed only to use the primary colors. As I began to fill my page with red, yellow, and blue streaks and various sized lines, Mary Lou offered suggestions on how to hold the brush, the amount of water to use, and how to control the color pigment. As I examined my finished page of rainbow colored stripes, lines, and streaks, I felt reconnected with my long lost friend – water coloring! That rainbow effect was my promise of future creations, which lay within my mind and hand.

Apple Study

An apple study in watercolor.

Arriving for the second class, I saw apples in the center of the worktable. It was at this point I realized we were going to actually paint an object! I was thrilled! But before I could take brush to paper, our instructor gave a brief explanation of how to look for various colors and shadows on the apples. I carefully examined my chosen apple discovering amazing different shades of red, yellow, and a hint of green now and then. Mary Lou also pointed out how the light affected the objects. I will never view a fruit or vegetable in the same manner after discovering just how many colors are present in a “red” apple.

It took me three attempts to achieve the correct shape of my apple. The first try looked more like a red pumpkin but on the third attempt, I was pleased with the shape and coloring of my creation. At break time the group examined and chatted about each other’s work. It was interesting to see how others used different color intensity. I must admit, their apple stems were superior to mine!

Papaya with flower.

Jeannette's painting of a papaya with an orange flower.

To prepare for our next class, the group was asked to bring in a vegetable or fruit to use as a subject to paint. I chose to bring a papaya cut in half. The instructor placed complementary colored flowers beside my papaya. The lesson focused on composition and painting colors in relation to each other. I enjoyed manipulating the shape of the papaya as I painted. I discovered that if I made a mistake, I could correct it or go in a different direction. I call this a happy accident because I actually ended up with a better product than I had originally conceived.

Sadly, the last lesson day arrived quickly. Our instructor told the class to take out our T-squares and use a pencil to place lines at the edge of our paper to accommodate for the overhang of a mat if it was framed. Mary Lou had arranged a cobalt blue vase holding a purple flower, placed on a slab of marble. I felt totally comfortable as I began painting strokes to create the vase. It came together well, as did the stem and purple flower. I completed my painting by adding the gray and pink veined marble on which the vase rested.

Jeannette's painting of a still life with blue vase and purple flower

Jeannette's painting of the still life with blue vase and purple flower.

I enjoyed the classes very much, and I have a newfound appreciation for the accomplished artist. It takes a lot of practice to refine brush strokes and time to achieve the desired color by using the right amount of water for the desired hue. I look at things differently now, noticing the varied colors and shading. I think my watercolor work shall achieve satisfaction and not perfection—it is simpler and more enjoyable that way.

Jeannette prepping her paper before beginning her composition.

Jeannette Sink, watercolor student and guest blogger

A second session of Basic Watercolor with Artist Mary Lou Bloise begins next Tuesday, October 18. Contact Rebecca Sailor at rsailor@gibbesmuseum.org if you would like to register.

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