This student (an eleven year old at the time) wrote about her experience while enrolled in private art lessons at the Create Everyday Classroom. I cannot think of a better testimonial.
The door clicks shut behind me, blocking out a gentle swirl of snow. Art lines the wall, watercolor, drawings, collages. I step into the small room and look around. Calm music plays and small candles illuminate the colorful, painted tablecloth. Pieces of artwork are hung up on the wall, and three tables are set up around the room. An eager Ms.Kari greets us with a smile on her face and an apron around her neck. I hug my dad goodbye, and hang my coat on a hook attached to the door.
”So today instead of a blind contour, i'm thinking we could do a different warm up.” Ms.Kari says. I nod, knowing that whatever Ms.Kari has in store for me, it will be great! I have been coming to Ms.Kari’s art class for a while, and a blind contour is one of my favorite warm ups. A blind contour is when I pick a portrait from a book Ms.Kari has, and look only at the portrait not at what i’m drawing as I copy the lines onto another piece of paper. The object of this is to slow down your eyes, and hand as they follow the lines. Even though I love blind contours, I am excited to try a new warm up.
I am slightly puzzled when Ms.Kari sets down five rather small pieces of canvas and paper. Each one is unique, one has been painted red, some are rough, some darker in color. Then she pulls out a big, thick book with a beautiful painting on the front.
"I love the painting on the cover." I say, running my fingers along the brushstrokes.
"I know isn't it great!" Ms.Kari replies enthusiastically. "You can look through this book, and mark the paintings you like" she tells me, handing me some light green sticky notes."I am going to give you five minutes" she says, as I begin to flip through the pages. I mark a page with a girls face, one of an old man with a long beard, another of a woman that has been painted with bold brush strokes. I have marked four pages when the timer goes off.
"I didn't get five yet" I explain looking up from the book.
"It's okay" she reassures me "we'll just use the ones you have".
After lots of anticipation, she finally explains what the warm up will be. "You are going to draw one of these portraits, but I am only going to give you two minutes." I look at her, a giant smile on my face, exited for the new challenge. "Which portrait do you want to use first?" Ms.Kari asks me. I go with the first one I marked, a pretty little girl dressed in finery. "Which paper do you want to use first?" she asks. I pause for a moment, considering this. I end up choosing a light tan colored paper, with a rough texture.
"May I start?"I ask.
"Yes, go ahead." Ms,Kari answers. I start with the girls head. I follow the bumps on her hair, do the hair line, the eyes, nose, mouth. All the while going fairly fast. The timer goes of, and I stop, taking a minute to look at how my picture turned out. You can tell it is done fast but with detail in some places.
"Wow" she breathes from behind me.
"I like it" I say, setting it aside so I will have room to make more. I make four more, choosing one last painting to copy for the last one, and set them all in front of me. Some are unfinished. One is missing eyes, another is missing a mouth, but they all look great despite the fact that they were rushed.
"I love them" she says "now I am going to have you paint one with the techniques we've been practicing.
"Okay" I answer.
"Remember don't overthink it, just paint."she reminds me as she squirts paint onto a paper plate. "Now which drawing do you want to paint?" she asks me. I take a minute to look at my drawings. Each one is unique. They are all a wonderful piece of art in their own way, which makes my desicion a hard one. Yet one catches my eye. It has no eyes, but their is something about it that I just love.
"That one" I say pointing to it.
"Okay go ahead" Ms.Kari tells me, setting the drawing in front of me. I pick up a rather small paintbrush, and dip it in a light tan. Taking a deep breath, I blot the page with color. Adding pink to the cheeks, and white to the forehead, and nose where the light is reflecting off. My brush is a blur as it mixes colors, strokes the page, and adds life to the page.Soon the face is done. With uneven skin tones, ands splotchy skin, the person is coming out of the paper. "Oh Paige, look at that" she exclaims, holding up my painting for me to see. I beam at it proud of my achievement. "Are you ready to work on the painting of you, and your grandpa?" I nod, eager to use the skills I'd just learned. I had been working on a picture of me, and my grandpa for weeks. Today I am going to work on painting my grandpa. Ms.Kari squirts more paint onto the paper plate. I watch as the thick acrylic paint oozes out of the bottle. Ms.Kari sets my painting and a few brushes in front of me. I select a small flat brush, and dip it in paint. I mix colors till I get a nice skin color. I cover most of my grandpas face with this, and then add color to the cheeks with red, and pink. "Why don't you add some white to the forehead, and chin" she instructs me. I obey, dipping my brush in white, and dabbing some on the forehead, then chin. "All right" Ms.Kari continues "now let's make some brown to use for your grandpas hair, instead of using the dried out brown paint.
"Okay, how will I make brown? I ask.
"Mix together red, and green." she answers. I dip my brush in red, then green, and swirl them around on the paper plate till I have a nice brown. Then I take my brush out of the brown, and start to paint my grandpas hair. I run my brush along the hairline, and fill in the rest of the hair with long smooth brush strokes.Ms.Kari was quietly observing me while I did this, and when when I finished she said "now, can you make some of your features more distinct since you have that dark color on your brush." I do so, outlining the nose, a little around the mouth, and an outline of the eyes. Once that is done, I blend the brown into the face to make it look more natural a technique Ms.Kari had taught me in a previous class. "Okay, add light to the bridge of the nose." Ms.Kari instructs, right as my dad walks into the room. I stand up, my paintbrush still clutched in my hand.
"Hi!" I say, setting my paintbrush down, and starting to untie my apron. My dad walks over and peers down at my painting.
"That's really good Paige's" he compliments me. I blush, proud of my painting, even though it was unfinished.Ms.Kari holds up my painting for me to look at one last time before she put it away. I beam at it, and just before she puts it away I thought I saw my grandpa smile right back.
Now I realize how much Ms.Kari has inspired me. She taught me how to not be critical of my work, a very valuable lesson that I will hold on to for a long time. She taught me all these techniques that I will continuously use. She unleashed the artist in me.
- Paige Yanny