Archive for the 'Classes' Category

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.

What I Did this Summer—Becca Goes to Camp

I’ve been volunteering with curator Sara Arnold for a couple of years, and I’ve been able to work on a variety of interesting projects. I have helped document the Alfred Hutty print inventory, update catalogue records for publication on the museum’s website, research French miniature painters in America for the In Search of Julien Hudson exhibit, write information sheets for docent training, along with many other tasks around the curatorial department. When Sara asked if I would be interested in working with the summer art camp, I readily agreed and looked forward to seeing kids express their creativity and learn more about the fabulous collection at the Gibbes. The campers certainly didn’t disappoint.

Campers create artist palettes.   Creating a miniature portrait.

Above: Campers created artist palettes and miniature portraits.

The first session was all about portraiture, and my favorite project was creating miniature “paintings.” While visiting the galleries, the campers were amazed to see the miniature portrait collection, and were even more surprised to learn that artists used single-hair brushes to complete such small masterpieces. We used Shrinky Dinks paper and markers (a much easier tool!) to draw small portraits, and after they “cooked” they were tiny! The second session focused on Charleston artists, and we were fortunate to have local painter Tate Nation visit our class and talk about his inspiration and process.

Tate Nation visits with campers.
Above: Tate Nation visited with campers.

The last session covered the unique features of Charleston architecture, and each camper created a maquette of a Charleston single house, complete with piazzas (or porches) and a landscaped garden. Even during these hectic mornings—gluing shingles, cutting out windows, and designing yards—I could not help but think about how this magical city has intrigued artists for years, and how fortunate it is that we have preserved our history for future generations to enjoy. I was reminded of my time looking at Alfred Hutty’s Charleston prints—I could recognize the scenes he depicted because many of those buildings and gates are still here.

Adding a red metal roof.   Designing a Charleston Single House.

Above: Campers designed Charleston Single Houses.

Becca Hiester, Volunteer, Gibbes Museum of Art

Experience a Summer of Fun with the Gibbes!

Summer is here and we are excited to welcome back many familiar faces to the Gibbes Summer Art Camp, including our teacher Sally Collins. A long-time Gibbes teaching artist, this is Sally’s second year teaching summer camp. She does an outstanding job with the children, combining hands-on projects with art history. Each week-long session focuses on a theme and this year we will look at “Portraits,” “Charleston Artists Past and Present,” and “Charleston Architecture.” Children will end each week with a mini exhibit of their work for their parents to enjoy. I recently spoke with several parents whose children have enjoyed camp in previous years and wanted to share their comments, as well as some great images of campers having fun.

My son Gray has attended the Gibbes art camp for the last three years. I continue to be thrilled and amazed by the superior art instruction he receives and the quality work that is created. Each year he has produced a beautiful portfolio of work that reflects the skills he gained in painting, drawing and print-making in just one week. The Gibbes art camp provides a lively learning environment that inspires creativity and instills a true love of process. Student access to original works of art within the museum is an added bonus. My son returned from camp each day talking about a different artist or painting from the Gibbes collection and the particular techniques employed. Not confined to the classroom, the camp also offers the opportunity to create art against Charleston’s historic backdrop. My son has always been interested in art; this camp provides a wonderful opportunity for him to measurably improve his abilities. —Zinnia Willits


Our daughter Adriana has enjoyed tremendously the Gibbes Summer Art Camps. She attended all of the sessions last summer and brought back home a diverse portfolio of artwork. As a parent and an educator, I appreciated the quality of the work my child was exposed to and was grateful for the enthusiasm of the instructors. Each day, I looked forward to the new projects Adriana brought home and I know she was proud to share them with us. —Anna Ballinger

I hope to see you this summer. If you are interested in getting more information or registering your child please call or email me at 843-722-2706 ext. 41 or rsailor@gibbesmuseum.org or you can download our registration form on our website.

—Rebecca Sailor, Associate Curator of Education, Gibbes Museum of Art

Montessori Day School Makes Monthly Visits to the Gibbes

Elise Detterbeck and students

The Montessori Day School is taking advantage of our guided school tours in a unique way. This group of students, ages six to twelve years old, is working with Museum Educator Elise Detterbeck in the galleries once a month during the school year. Rebecca Sailor, Associate Curator of Education, has had the opportunity to observe the students as they interact with and learn from Elise. After the school’s most recent visit, Rebecca talked with Elise about the curriculum. Their conversation is below.

Rebecca Sailor: There are so many approaches when working with kids in the galleries. What have you focused on with the Montessori School group?
Elise Detterbeck: I have chosen to organize the visits by looking at different genres of painting each visit. During their first visit, in October, we explored portraits (both miniature and full size), and talked about traditional versus modern (pose, attributes, props) and how they reflect the culture of the time in which they are painted. The Face Lift exhibition provided a great resource for exploring this theme.

In November, we focused on landscapes, once again starting with traditional and ending with modern. This time we talked about composition (background, foreground, midground and the horizon line), texture, point of view (bird’s eye, worm’s eye, Dutch angle, straight-on), as well as style (realistic, impressionistic, abstract), and subject matter.

This last visit, we talked about genre pictures (pictures that tell a story). This style of painting allowed us to revisit and review what we had discussed in visits one and two, since many genre scenes have the same elements as portraits and landscapes. In addition to the discussion, I gave the children a writing project based on one of our paintings.

As for the last three visits, I am discussing plans with the teachers. These children are extremely bright, really enthusiastic, and full of energy. What a joy! I’m thinking we should do some kind of hands-on activity with them to really cement what we’ve learned. One idea is to have them create an activity book starting with December’s writing activity, which they can add to each visit. I do want to encourage them to experiment with their own styles of drawing. They draw outside while waiting to come into the museum, so I think they would enjoy it.
Elise Detterbeck and students

Rebecca Sailor: What do you hope to accomplish with this class?
Elise Detterbeck: This is a wonderful opportunity to introduce students to the art of looking. My first question is always “What do you see?” These kids are so into it that they don’t even wait for me to ask the question anymore. My ultimate goal is to teach them how to look at a work of art and be able to understand it on multiple levels. For example, what is the creator trying to express, and how does the work reflect the artist and his or her view of the world? I also want the students to explore the possibilities of what the piece means to themselves, and how it relates to their own world view.

Rebecca Sailor: What do you feel are the benefits of monthly visits?
Elise Detterbeck: I worked in Chicago at the Terra Museum and we had some schools that came three times in a school year, but every month is even better. Multiple visits, with a small group like this, are so good because you can lay the foundation and then build on it, thus adding more and more each time you see them. And the joy of this Montessori group is that they remember so much between visits.

Rebecca Sailor: As their leader, what do you envision being your favorite part?
Elise Detterbeck: My favorite part is definitely the “ah-ha!” moment, when they use the looking strategies to figure out a work of art. They see things I’ve never seen, even after working with a piece so many times.

Rebecca Sailor: Is there anything else you want to say about your experience with the Montessori School?
Elise Detterbeck: I think my challenge is going to be to make each visit unique in its own way, and valuable to each student. That is why I want them to create something themselves, which will personalize the experience for every individual.

Rebecca Sailor, Associate Curator of Education, Gibbes Museum of Art

Toddler Tuesdays: A Parent’s Perspective

Toddler Tuesdays
Danielle Zorn (center) and her daughter, Kylie, paint fall leaves during Toddler Tuesdays.

If you come to my house on a typical morning you will probably find me asking my two year old daughter Kylie at least four to five times to please put on her shoes so we can get our day started. Not on Toddler Tuesday. All I have to do on Tuesday is casually mention that it’s time to head to the Charleston Library Society and shoes are on and she is out the door before I have time to blink! She loves the Gibbes Museum of Art’s Toddler Tuesdays and so do I!

Once we arrive at the Library Society both kids and adults settle in on giant bean bags and sit back and listen while we are taken on an exciting literary journey that help the kids explore the world of art as well as the world that surrounds them. They are often asked questions during the stories that help them explore and understand the morals and lessons of the books. Once the stories are read, the kids move on to their art projects. From painting to collage, pencil drawing to t-shirt dying, the art projects are varied and exciting. Whether taught by Annette Wanick or Sandy Young, the kids learn about basic art concepts such as color mixing, shape recognition, the use of texture and layering, and much more. Both Annette and Sandy are wonderful art educators that relate to and encourage creativity from their students. With such caring and knowledgeable teachers, it is no wonder that each week we come home with a new masterpiece to add to our collection as well as wonderful memories that will be remembered for a longtime to come.

I think that Kylie sums up her experiences here best when she leaves on Tuesdays saying, “that was really fun, mommy. I like coming here.” I agree.

Danielle Zorn, Member and Guest Blogger, The Gibbes Museum of Art

Toddler Tuesdays
Free and exclusive for Gibbes Museum and Charleston Library Society Members
Every Tuesday at the Charleston Library Society, 164 King St
10:15–11:00am in the Children’s Room; No reservations required
Led by Gibbes Women’s Council members Annette Wanick and Sandy Young
Questions? Call Rebecca Sailor at 843.722.2706 x41 or email rsailor@gibbesmuseum.org

Toddler Tuesday’s: An Art Teacher’s Treat

Toddler Tuesdays
Annette Wanick shares a story during Toddler Tuesdays.

Teaching the Gibbes Museum of Art’s Toddler Tuesdays—held weekly at the Charleston Library Society—has become one of my favorite things to do. The class combines story time and art activities for children ages 18-months to five years accompanied by an adult. My partner-in-crime, Carole Anne Rissmiller, and I love reading the books and planning the lessons. (We also use Toddler Tuesdays as an excuse to have lunch at different restaurants and explore Charleston with our cameras!)

All art lessons for the toddlers are discipline based. Each week we use a fascinating early-learning level book to help the children explore the world of art. Last week, we read “Squarehead” by Harriet Ziefert. Through question and answer, we discovered that there are many different kinds of shapes and colors in our clothes, on the windows and doors, and all around us. Learning and recognizing shapes is a fundamental tool when learning to read. Focusing on what they learned in “Squarehead,” the children and their adult partners created personalized books featuring specific shapes and colors. Extra pages were included to allow them to continue working on their books at home.

As a retired elementary art teacher, this class allows me the opportunity to continue to share the world of art with children. I hope to have more children and parents join us this year.

Sandy Young, Women’s Council Volunteer and Guest Blogger, Gibbes Museum of Art

Toddler Tuesdays
Free and exclusive for Gibbes Museum and Charleston Library Society Members
Every Tuesday at the Charleston Library Society, 164 King St
10:15–11:00am in the Children’s Room; No reservations required
Led by Gibbes Women’s Council members Annette Wanick and Sandy Young
Questions? Call Rebecca Sailor at 843.722.2706 x41 or email rsailor@gibbesmuseum.org

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