Building Work

Building Work

In a recent after-school enrichment class, entitled aptly enough, “Art, Artists and Art History”, students created their own “built environments“, then painted mini-murals on them, inspired by artist / muralist Diego Rivera.

WebS.In the process, they learned about color mixing…


Web1. WebE.two and three-dimensional art,

WebQ.painting  techniques and how to cover a surface,

WebI.planning, drawing and imagination,

WebL.their color preferences, (“I like purple!” declared this 6 year-old artist), to create “windows and doors”,

WEB_04.and look through them,

WEB_03.and best of all, how to create their own special world, through color, imagery, texture, openings and space.

We celebrate this!

Faces of Earth: Children Work With Clay

Faces of Earth: Children Work With Clay

web4In an after-school enrichment class, children aged 6-11 were making projects inspired by the work of great artists. Through these projects, students learned about the artist and their style/s, art movements, how to work with various materials, and hopefully, how to use the work of a known artist as a jump-off point for their own.

web6In a Spanish language immersion school, we learned about Spanish-speaking artists, including Pablo Picasso  who was influenced by African art, and helped to create and launch the experimental movement of Cubism.

web2Students were taught to “pound out” or flatten their clay “chunks” into slabs, after forming them into loose balls.

web9They then developed their slabs into faces by shaping and texturing them, cutting pieces out, and adding to them using a “scoring” technique, so that the pieces added wouldn’t fall off when the clay began to dry. Well, a modified scoring technique, which included adding texture to the two pieces that were to be attached, and pressing them together to increase their bond.  This proved challenging for the children, as it was hard for them to understand why this was necessary.

web5Another challenge was how thin many of the pieces turned out to be. They are drying now, and I am extremely careful in moving them around, and turning them over, so all surfaces can dry. The students produced  highly fanciful, expressive and emotive works, qualities only intensified by the delicacy of some of them.

web7This young artist made the little figure on the face as a separate piece at first, but it was so thin and fragile I knew it would not survive. Luckily, she was happy to add it to her piece and play with surrealism and scale!

web3Día de Muertos, the Mexican holiday of “Day of the Dead” influenced the students’ work, as in this 6 year old’s tiny skeleton gracing the back of her mask. Again, this tiny figure was to fragile to stand on its own, so now it has become a part of Mia’s signature! 

web1     Skeletons, whether smoking a cigar or not, inspired the students, as did….

web8pumpkins!  This is one ferocious pumpkin face, and at least twice the size of most of the other pieces. The young artist got caught up in his work towards the end of the hour, and insisted on finishing all of the teeth, and details of they eyes. Now…what will he add to this piece this week, to finish it off?

What will each of the students do with paint, to complete their works?  Let’s hope all of the pieces dry, so we can find out!



WEB2a“The world is so full of a number of things,
I ’m sure we should all be as happy as kings.” Robert Louis Stevenson

About a week ago I serendipitously stumbled upon a sale at the LACMA (Los Angeles County Museum of Art) store.  What luck! Despite the fact that I had just reorganized our books to make room for them all, I found myself perusing the bins of books on sale, and choosing four at $5.00 each. It can take just but this kind of experience to make us feel rich. In this and the next post, I share them with you…dear Readers and fellow passionate pursuers. My choices included discoveries and a “visit” from an old friend…

WEB2 I had not heard of art historian Alessandra Comini, but now that I have her book, I hope to passionately pursue her writing.  “Her lively revisionist work in the history of women artists was acknowledged in 1995 by the Women’s Caucus for Art with the coveted Lifetime Achievement Award. –

WEB2bIn Passionate Pursuit, by Comini.

Booklist: “This erudite, mostly engaging self-portrait charts the making of an art historian and
professional “seer,” whose passion and wit enabled her to become a noted teacher and scholar at Southern Methodist University. Comini helped unearth centuries of overlooked women in art and wrote landmark studies of the Austrian painter Egon Schiele and of musical iconography. For someone engaged in a life of the mind, she has lived much of it in motion, and the art of travel and close consideration of cultural context have been her keys to learning and teaching. She is at her riveting best when she reveals her discoveries about Schiele in his Vienna prison cell, Winckelmann in Rome and Trieste, the composer Edvard Grieg in Norway, and the painter Akseli Gallen-Kalella in Finland. Her short essays dazzle the most when they reveal her keen eye, such as when she discerns how the German artist Kathe Kollwitz, in a bust of herself, “used the resolute features of her own aging face as a spiritual topography for courage and resignation.”

WEB1I gave away an over-sized  book on Georgia O’Keeffe that I had for years before moving, in an effort to downsize. This little gem on Georgia will be easy to have, hold, and refer to. Written for children(?), it is easy to read, and packed with word and image.

WEB1aPerhaps everyone’s (artist-identified or not) “old friend”,  O’Keeffe never ceases to be magical and inspirational.

WEB1bAs well as mysterious…

WEB1cHer environment.

WEB1dHer work.

Written in simple language, punctuated by photographs and images of O’Keeffe’s wide and  wondrous  work through the years, this find by Susan Goldman Rubin will ensure that wideness and wonder stay close at hand.

WEB3a  Carl Larsson and Karin Bergoo Larsson were a Swedish husband and wife artist team who created an amazing home for themselves and their children, depicted in this book, Carl Larsson-garden.  This book will light up anyone moved by color, decorative painting, art, interior, surface and  garden design, architecture, or just the concept and expression of “home”.

I will explore this book, and the one below, in greater depth in my next post.

WEB4Intricate designs, whimsical figures of animals and people, and rows of heads with open mouths and earrings are some of the intriguing delights to be found in this LACMA publication from 1977!   I wish I could have seen this exhibition….

These are just a few of the rich treasures these books offer up.  They are the gifts that keep on giving…revealing more and more as they are perused, and revisited. I am looking forward to sharing further in the next post, though there is never enough time. Perhaps that is why many of us remain in “passionate pursuit”…

Georgia on Our Minds

Georgia on Our Minds


Georgia O’Keeffe – American Artist –  November 15, 1887 – March 6, 1986


Georgia O’Keeffe is considered one of the greatest American artists of the twentieth century.

She is best known for her flower canvases seen in close range and her southwestern landscapes.

 OKEEFE_4Hibiscus with Plumeria, Georgia O’Keeffe, 1939, oil on canvas 40 x 30 inches

Artist and painter Georgia O’Keeffe was born on November 15, 1887, in Sun Prairie, Wisconsin. She started making art at a young age and went to study at the Art Institute of Chicago in the early 1900s. Later, she lived and studied in New York City, the center of American art world, and studied at the Art Students League there.

She was unsatisfied with her art education, and thought she would never stand out as an artist trying to imitate reality the way she was trained. She did not paint for four years, and worked as a commercial artist and later as an art teacher.

She was inspired to paint again in 1912, when she attended a class at the University of Virginia Summer School, where she was introduced to the ideas of Arthur Wesley Dow. Dow believed that the goal of art was the expression of the artist’s personal ideas and feelings, and that this could best be done putting together arrangements of line, color, and shading, and not trying to “copy” something in the outside world.

OKEEFE_2Blue Flower, Georgia O’Keeffe, 1918, Pastel on paper mounted on cardboard, 20 × 16 inches

Dow’s ideas offered O’Keeffe an alternative to the realistic style she had been taught, and she experimented with them for two years, while she was either teaching art in the Amarillo, Texas public schools. When O’Keeffe was teaching art at Columbia College, Columbia, South Carolina, she decided to test Dow’s theories.

Wanting to find a personal language through which she could express her own feelings and ideas, O’Keeffe began series of abstract drawings that are now recognized as being among the most innovative in all of American art of the period. Abstract art uses elements like line, color and shape as a vehicle of  the artist’s expression. Abstract art doesn’t have to look just like something we see in the outside world.

OKEEFE_3Sunset, Long Island, Georgia O’Keeffe, 1939, oil on canvas board, 10 x 14 inches

O’Keeffe mailed some of these drawings to a former Columbia classmate, who showed them to the famous photographer and gallery owner Alfred StieglitzStieglitz gave O’Keeffe her first gallery show at his 291 Gallery” in New York City in 1916 and she married him in 1924. He was 54, she was 31. It was not an easy marriage, and she spent much time away from him, in New Mexico.

OKEEFE_1Black Mesa Landscape, Georgia O’Keeffe, 1930, Oil on canvas mounted on board, 24 1/4” x 36 1/4 inches

After frequently visiting New Mexico since the late 1920s, O’Keeffe moved there for good in 1946 after Stieglitz died. She often painted the rugged and rocky New Mexican  landscape  which she loved. She had the ability to capture the natural beauty of northern New Mexico desert and mountains in her art.

O’Keeffe died on March 6, 1986, at 98 years old in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Perennially popular, her works can be seen at museums around the world as well as the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum in Santa Fe.







Still Raving About Rivera

Still Raving About Rivera

Diego Rivera: Mexican Artist/Muralist

Born in Guanajuato, Mexico, December 8, 1886, died November 24, 1957, Mexico City


Diego María de la Concepción Juan Nepomuceno Estanislao de la Rivera y Barrientos Acosta y Rodríguez, known as Diego Rivera was a famous Mexican painter and the husband of artist Frida Kahlo.  He is known for his murals painted in “Fresco” style executed in Mexico, as well as the United States. A mural is artwork painted or applied directly on a wall, ceiling or other large permanent surface, and as you can see, Rivera’s murals are huge, and very detailed, and designed to work with the architecture of the building they are part of.

 tohyf_RIVERA2Frozen Assets. 1931-32
Fresco on reinforced cement in a galvanized-steel framework, 93 ¾ x 74”
Museo Dolores Olmedo, Xochimilco, Mexico

When he very young (he begins to draw at the age of three), Diego Rivera loved to paint, so much that his father covered a room of their house in Guanajuato with paper so that the child could paint all over the walls. Diego says that it was in that room where he created his first murals.

Rivera received his formal art training in Mexico City, and in 1907, then studied in Spain, France, and Italy on scholarship.  He returned to Mexico some fourteen years later, and along with the artists José Clemente Orozco and David Alfaro Siqueiros,  became a leader of the Mexican Mural Movement that became popular after the Mexican Revolution. His murals showed native Mexican culture and heritage, working people, and dreams for the future. Diego Rivera connected making art with history, technology, and progressive politics.

During the 1920s Diego Rivera helped to create nationalist painting style in Mexico called Social Realism”, an international art movement made up of artists who show the poor and working classes, and whose artworks often criticize their living conditions.



“Part Of Diego Rivera’s Mural Depicting Mexico’s History”, 1929 – 1945
Also Called: “México en la historia, perspectiva: El campesino oprimido”, 1935.
Near Left Staircase. Palacio Nacional. Mexico City D.F. México. (Fresco)

His murals were painted in a Fresco (“FRESH”) style, using water and pigment, which creates color, on fresh wet plaster, so the painting becomes part of the wall.

“In his best mural paintings, he (Diego Rivera) merged past, present, and future into dense, crowded visions of an essential Mexico. He drew on Mexican history, folk art, the discoveries of archaeology and other sciences. He … made something that was not there before: a unifying, celebratory image of Mexico. In his art, he unified a people …. He said in his art: you are all Mexico.”-George & Eve DeLange

Rivera’s murals were well-known in the United States by the late 1920s and he became one of the most popular artists in the US by the early 1930s.  He was asked to create three murals in San Francisco,  was invited by General Motors to create murals at the Chicago World’s Fair; and he painted murals at Rockefeller Center and the New Workers School in New York.



“The Making of a Fresco Showing the Building of a City”, 1931, fresco, San Francisco Art Institute.   It is a mural about murals and because it represents Rivera and his assistants creating the mural itself.

Diego Rivera with Wife Frida KahloRivera was married three times — most famously to the painter Frida Kahlo.

tohyf_RIVERA7     “Retrato de Diego Rivera” / “Portrait of Diego Rivera , by Frida Kahlo, 1937, Oil painting on wood

“An artist is above all a human being, profoundly human to the core…” –Diego Rivera

Delving into Dali

Delving into Dali


Salvador Dali

Spanish Surrealist Artist

(Born May 11, 1904 – Died January 23, 1989)

Salvador Domingo Felipe Jacinto Dalí i Domènech, 1st Marqués de Dalí de Pubol known as Salvador Dalí was a prominent Spanish Surrealist artist born in Figueres in the Catalonia region of Spain, close to the border of France.

In addition to being a painter, Dalí worked in film, sculpture, photography and even fashion, often with other artists. He was a highly skilled draftsman, meaning that he drew really, really well! (This helps if you want to be a painter.)

Dali_1The Mae West Lips Sofa, 1937

Dalí was a pretty wild character. He grew a huge mustache, which became a trademark.

He drew attention for his wild and unusual clothes and style.  (Sounds like our friend, the Mexican painter Frida Kahlo, with her long skirts, and wild hairdos). He had long hair and sideburns, coat, stockings, and old-fashioned style pants that buttoned at the knees called “knee-breeches”. He sometimes wore a cape, and carried a walking stick.


Dali used a very realistic technique to create his paintings, and put strange, unreal, dream-like images in them.  This was his style of “Surrealism”, an art style that began in the 1920s. In his paintings, he would create a reality from his dreams, thus changing reality from what it was, to what he imagined, or maybe, wanted to see.  This became his way of life and making art.

Dali_5La Main (Les Remords de conscience), 1930

Surrealist artists painted sometimes shocking and nonsensical scenes very realistically, which make them even stranger. They painted bizarre creatures made of everyday objects. Things that we never see together in the “real” world show up together in their painting, surprising, amusing or even scaring us, the viewer.

Dali_3The Persistence of Memory, 1931

Dalí painted some things that he wanted to represent certain ideas. For example, the “melting watches” in the painting The Persistence of Memory tell us that time can feel different at different times: same five minutes can go very quickly, or seem to go on forever. This idea came to him when he was staring at a runny piece of cheese on a hot summer day. That cheese must have really been melting.

Dali_4Soft Watch at the Moment of First Explosion, 1954