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HS Student Work – Art as a Daily Practice

I am teaching a remote HS arts elective entitled Art as a Daily Practice. The challenge is to commit to creating something every single day, but the exercise are generally pretty easy with some optional elements for those who want to take the work a bit further. We are now up to a Day 23 (with a few days off here and there) and the exercises have ranged broadly from qualitative (abstract) to observational (realistic). This is a selection of work mostly from Days 10 – 22, with a few earlier days from some who were catching up.

Student Work – Grades 6 – 12

A selection of HVWS student work from late April through early May. The first ones in color are the final exercises from the senior portrait work. Our in-class self-portrait began with a single (now unfinished) canvas, and ended with a series for 4 lessons (one new study per week) done remotely at home (see earlier work in post below). Since our lives are currently a major abstraction from everyday life as we (used to) know it, I moved the self-portrait exercises towards the abstract in reflection of the times we are in.

Included below are some middle school tree bud and “creature” studies (animals and insects, alive or dead) for which you’ll find instructions for a few posts earlier. I’m currently teaching a HS arts elective, Art as a Daily Practice, with a mix of students from Grades 9-12. We began doing some gesture work inspired by one or two poems by David Whyte, and have covered a wide range of observational and abstract exercises inspired by nature and everyday objects.

At the every end you’ll see a selection of postcards I’ve painted for my Grades 2-5 classes, including some portraits of their beloved class teachers (also my beloved colleagues). Since we can’t see each other in person, I thought I would make some of the teachers visible to their students through the arts.

Everything All at Once

Here is the story of what life has been like, as a Waldorf art teacher, for the last month+ through pictures and video tutorials. I thought about trying to arrange things chronologically, but the reality is that so many classes and assignments that I’m creating are happening in overlapping and simultaneous ways, and therefore an attractively arranged jumble seems most appropriate. There are plenty more video tutorials on Instagram and just a few on YouTube, so following any of those links will take you there. In no particular order other than what looks good…

A collection of recent HS students work, all done remotely from home:

View this post on Instagram

HVWS Grade 10 — Nature Journal Color Study

A post shared by Sara Parrilli (@saraparrilli) on

LESSON 2 – DRAWING CREATURES

HVWS Grades 6 – 8 (or public drop-ins!)

***These exercises were written for my current students, assuming they have some background knowledge of how to begin. If you are new to drawing I have been be sharing more detailed “how-to” videos via Instagram.

***HVWS Parents, please allow students to work as independently as possible with the written exercise using their own capabilities, minimizing screen time and allowing a quiet, focused space for drawing.

Lesson 1 – Tree Bud Study

HVWS Grades 6 – 8 (or public drop-ins!)

***These exercises were written for my current students, assuming they have some background knowledge of how to begin. If you are new to drawing I will be sharing more detailed “how-to” videos via Instagram and possibly YouTube and will update them at the bottom of this post as soon as they are available.

***HVWS Parents, please allow students to work as independently as possible with the written exercise using their own capabilities, minimizing screen time and allowing a quiet, focused space for drawing.

This observational exercise is to be ongoing. The goal is to observe a single tree bud over the next few weeks. Students should complete two 20-minute drawings per week and they may do daily and/or longer drawings if they prefer. They should check on their buds daily and if they notice any changes, they should ideally make a new drawing or even a quick sketch between longer drawing sessions. Even if changes do not seem to occur, students should still make the required two drawings per week. If your buds die off or do not open, simply select a new branch. It’s fun to label the drawings, noting the days (Day 1, Day 5, etc) and students are welcome to make additional observations by writing notes either on the same page or elsewhere. Step 3 should be completed a minimum of twice per week. I may introduce additional exercises as we progress in our work from afar.

Please bear with me while I adjust to teaching in this way! If you have any general “how-to” questions that may also be helpful to others, I welcome you to write them in the comments below. For more specific inquiries regarding your child, you can send me a message via the Contact form on my website, or via the school website under Faculty. Depending on how we progress, I may add some special tabs for each grade. I am happy to send the below image as JPEG via email. I’m testing the lesson format here below for the first time and will edit accordingly.

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For “Public Drop-Ins” (non-HVWS students) visit INSTAGRAM: Click to watch a 5-min video on “Blind Contour Drawing” or an 8-min video on “Tree Bud Study” drawing.

Illustrating Waldorf Education K-12

Grade 12I have been working a new series of illustrations for Hawthorne Valley Waldorf School’s biweekly newsletter. I needed to come up an image for every class at the school, from our three kindergarten classes all the way up to twelfth grade. The challenge was create something that gave both a larger picture of the entire Waldorf curriculum while highlighting a theme from each year. I did my best to represent as many subjects as possible while maintaining some degree of flow from one image to the next. Here are the final results! If you are interested in purchasing some of my work, please keep scrolling down to the prior post. [The below illustrations are currently not for sale.]

I’m still waiting for my dream (paid) illustration job to land in my lap, so if you happen to know what it is… please send it my way! Something not too big, not too small…

Painting in the Waldorf Curriculum

UPDATE 09/01/17: Some of these paintings are on view and for sale at the Hawthorne Valley Farm Store’s Cafe Gallery throughout the month of September. Please contact me directly with questions regarding purchasing or pricing. . 

For the last two years I have attended the Alkion Center for my Waldorf Teacher Training. Below is some of the work from my final research project on painting within the Waldorf curriculum. I worked with the questions of how to approach a painting’s subject matter and how to develop it through the feeling life into a pedagogical color exercise. I often painted the same image over and over again, even if the results were relatively the same in effort to build the proper color sequence for the children’s painting experience.

Sometimes the Magic…

This is Gray Bear. At least, that is who is he to me, even though we only met for the one day it took me to make him. He has since traveled across the country to his destined home in the wilds of Montana… or really into the arms of a little boy. He is the finishing touch to one of my best kept secrets, and it is certainly a hard thing to keep such a secret from a dear friend for so long!

In September 2014, I had the idea of putting together a (surprise) baby blanket for my friend Katie and her little boy to be. I envisioned making something that as a whole represented her nearest and dearest friends and family members, so I put a call out to those who might be interested in contributing a personalized square. In anticipation of having to stitch everyone’s individual creations into a streamlined grid of a blanket, I requested 12″ squares, knowing that this way I’d have some extra fabric to work with. I also wasn’t sure how many people would end up making something and wanted the pieces large enough so that together they equaled the size of a baby blanket. Although they did end up varying in size, it was easy enough fitting the pieces together in a tidy fashion. As I began to assemble the squares, I got a bit carried away and made a few extra ones to include throughout. What resulted was not really a baby blanket, but a quilt large enough to fit a twin size bed!

Quilt in its Entirity

When I was a child, my parents had a large quilted bedspread with an overall forest scene pattern. The print appeared as though you were flying above a forest and looking down on the treetops. Repeated throughout the forest, the pattern featured an estate-like building, some deer, and possibly a bird or two. Even though these things repeated over and over across the entire bedspread, I loved to lie on top of it and imagine scenes happening between the deer, the various estates (I thought of them as castles), and who might be living in them. As I worked on this quilt, I imagined Katie’s son growing up and asking, “Who made this one, momma?” and her replying to him with stories her childhood and from all of her friends.

Here you can click on the individual squares to view up close, and to see who made each one…

Lastly, a few more detail shots. As you can see here, Gray Bear fits into the “pocket overalls” in the second row. These were Katie’s husband’s first pair of overalls that his mother sent to me whole, and I stitched onto a square. I put them near the top of the blanket so that as the little one grows, he will be able to reach into the pocket for his special friend, who will have a safe place to sleep each night.

Sometimes the magic just happens.

 

My Summer in Sketches

This past spring I completed my two-year painting training at the Free Columbia Art Course, in Philmont, NY. I knew that the summer ahead was going to be a busy one and that continuing my painting work would be challenging. But in an effort to maintain an artistic practice, I decided I would dedicate the spare moments of summertime to drawing in a sketchbook. The only rules were: draw often, draw from real life (not photos, ever!), and draw whatever is available, wherever I am. I have a particular goal in life to draw animals, as I find them or as they appear before me, and was honored to have shared those moments that I found with them. Not pictured are a pileated woodpecker, a few other birds, and a bear (only after he ran across the road). It is through drawing plants and animals in real life that I can form a deeper relationship to their being, with the hope of eventually bringing them to life in children’s book illustration.

Here are just a few (!) the results… CLICK on individual photos to view in their entirety.

Transformation

Ghosts

More artwork below!

Opening Speech (edited for blog post) from:

Conversations with the Sea: A Collaborative Presentation in Words and Pictures at the Berkshire Festival of Women Writers – Friday March 28, 2014

Over a year ago I watched a trailer for a documentary film featuring the Laysan Albatross. The film is called Midway, and is the creation of artist/director Chris Jordan. To this day, I have not actually seen the film itself but I’ve watched the trailer countless times [to my knowledge, the film has not actually been released]. I was so moved by both the incredible beauty and the deep sadness of what I saw, and I felt such strong desire to respond to it in some way, but I had no idea where to begin…

I did know however that I wanted to respond in an artistic way, because it is through art that we have the power to transform; to transform what we see, to transform our understanding of a chosen subject, and to transform ourselves. In order to live our lives in a conscientious way while facing some of the dark realities of our time, we have to carry a bit of that weight with us throughout every day life. But through art, we have the power to balance out the darkness through the presence of light.

A conversation between my friend Hannah Fries (poetry and associate editor at Orion magazine) and myself is what eventually brought the idea for this project into being. We began it merely because we wanted to explore an artistic dialogue together, never knowing we would end up presenting it at the Berkshire Festival of Women Writers. What our audience hopefully experiences between Hannah’s poems and my illustrations is really an artistic conversation, and a means for us to more deeply explore a challenging reality of our time. And that conversation is an ongoing one.

Neither of us has ever seen an albatross in person. When we began this project, we approached the actual topic from afar… imagining our albatross way out in the distance, coming towards us. As the project progressed and we came into closer relationship with our albatross, both the project and ourselves were able to transform.

*      *      *

wingspan

We wanted to give our festival audience a better idea for the size of bird we were talking about, so I made a quick wingspan sketch. Although the larger bird, the great albatross (10 to 12-foot wingspan), is not featured in the Midway trailer, I realized through some research that most of the albatross families are endangered in some way due to ocean pollution or other ecological issues. The laysan albatross pictured below (6-foot wingspan) is the one from the trailer, and thus speaks in some way for all endangered species.

“Do we have the courage to face the realities of our time?

And allow ourselves to feel deeply enough that it transforms us and our future?”

~ Chris Jordan