Perpich Center for Arts Education - Pat Benincasa - 5.5 hours

This is my last week at Perpich :( Very bittersweet for me. But my lesson was awesome!

I didn't spend too much time with the sculpture students this week, its still this crazy time at the school because seniors are putting up a senior retrospective exhibition in the school and there is only 3 sculpture students. And they were just sort of doing their own thing, so we just sort of hung out! Kind of a nice way to end my time with them (since I'm not the master sculptor… haha)

Student Work

I only had four students in the painting exercise, for the same reasons that the sculpture class was small. But this was perfect for me! I think I had a really nice, diverse group of students. Each one of them made very different paintings so that was good.

The actual lesson went really well. On Monday, I walked them through a power point with a ton (maybe even too many) of examples of artworks that demonstrated atmospheric qualities and complex edge relationships. Artists like Jeremy Mann, Sophie Jodoin, and Ann Gale were among them. There were a bunch of things I would do differently next time I give this lesson, I would have less images and wanted to have more discussion about the work. I was sort of blazing through the slides trying to show the students lots of examples and it was really nice when one of them would speak up and talk about something they really liked about a particular piece. 

Student Work

After the presentation, I did a short demo for them. I had them working on masonite board which was nice since they are very new painters and have only been working on canvas paper up till now. I think the demo was the most helpful part of the lesson, which I actually was not planning on doing. But I am now so thankful that Lynda talked me into it! It helped them a lot to be able to actually see the process of creating paintings with atmospheric qualities. 

I wanted them to work fast. They are used to having two or more weeks to create their assignments. Young artists also tend to think that detail is what viewers gawk over and what makes good art, but that is not always true. I didn't want them to use small brushes (a lot of them use the smallest brushes ever! Seriously like 1/4 or even 1/8 of an inch) and encouraged them to use palette knives. I brought them some nice metal ones that I really don't care for (they are too pointy to me) that I let them use and told them they could keep them. 

So the lesson was meant to allow them to work fast, and efficiently, and let go of obsessive detail-oriented painting and create specific shapes and marks and to activate negative space with mark making. I brought in images for them to work off of, to conserve time so that they didn't spend time searching for an image to use (some of them weren't too happy about that! But  they got over it.) I just wanted them to see this at a young age and have this method of mark-making in their back pocket… it didn't matter to me if they never painted like this again, but I wish someone would have shown this method to me when I was 17!

One student finished theirs the first day! Then showed up with a new one the next day. Actually, almost all of them finished before I had intended. I wanted to take away their images after the first day so that they could break away from the boundaries trying to copy a photo can have on an artist. I wanted them to react and respond to the painting was doing and what the painting needed, not look at the photo to see what they think the painting needed. But most of them did this anyway before I took the reference images away, and were done within minutes!

Pat was very pleased with the results, as was I! Each of them said that they would absolutely use this technique in work from now on. One students said they loved the palette knife and might never use a brush again. They said it was awesome to be so loose, and not concerned with "perfection" and obsessing over small details. It was an awesome two days.

I did have one student not finish, but her painting was looking beautiful So we critiqued the work in progress. She was using a palette knife for the first time and was doing so very effectively, she also tends to spend an outrageous amount of time on her paintings, so she was actually moving fast compared to how she usually works, and it was looking great, so we weren't mad :) And one student made two! So it made up for it and we had four and half painting to look at during critique on day two. 

The joy I felt from the students response to my lesson was ineffable. Such a great experience! I brought the students girl scout cookies and said bye to the seniors who weren't in the classroom with me. There was many a hug involved. I had such a great time here! Pat was an amazing mentor and I will carry this experience with me forever! I am actually very sad to be leaving… which I wasn't expecting. I think I really had great relationships with some of the painting students so I let them know that they can email me through my website anytime they would want a critique on their work or anything. I also made up a little student evaluation form for the students to fill out, which isn't required for my course, but I think it will be very helpful for me! 

See ya, Perpich! Its been great! 

I am now officially done with all of my placements required for the course, so this is my last journal entry, there are just too many goodbyes happening this week! What an awesome experience I've had this semester… Can't wait for more to come!