Textural Abstract Landscapes

One of the finished textural pieces:
sand, sea glass, shells, molding paste, & paint

Last week I led an art workshop for a fantastic group of teens from Temple Shaaray Tefila in NYC. These teens are participating in a program called Gateways and Tents, which is a partnership between Shaaray Tefila and Ohel Avraham – their sister temple in Israel. Some of the teens will be traveling to Israel soon, and in March a number of the students from Israel will be traveling here to NYC. One of the program goals is to help the students explore their sense of Jewish identity, think about their relationship to Israel, and engage in creative team building experiences. 

With that in mind, I was asked to create an art workshop that would be engaging and get the teens to start thinking about the land of Israel, on a physical and emotional level. After brainstorming with the program director Hope Chernak, we decided that a very ‘hands on’ painting workshop would be wonderful and I decided to utilize my background in creating textural multimedia paintings to share a new way of art making with the group.


I began with a brief powerpoint presentation, where I shared some of my work with Israeli and Palestinian teens from a few summers ago. These powerful images of artwork helped inspire the group and also introduced them to some of the current issues in Israel, as well as ways that art can act as a bridge between groups of people. To read more about my work in this program and see some of the art click here: Artsbridge Blog Posts


Next we moved into the other room, where tables had been set up with a whole ‘buffet’ of art materials. I gave the teens a brief demo on how to work with a few of the molding pastes (acrylic texture mediums) and then gave them the directive to ‘create an abstract landscape that reflects your current thoughts, memories, or ideas about the land of Israel.’ I encouraged them to think about Israel symbolically even more so than literally and to trust the process as they experimented with the different materials. 

A ‘buffet’ of 3D materials to create texture:
shells, rocks, sea glass…

I was stuck by how quickly the teens began creating and how fearless they were in their textural explorations – not to mention how inventive! The pieces that they created on canvas were overflowing with originality, personal symbolism, and beautiful textures.

A few of the teens worked with a paintbrush but the majority of the time was spent molding and shaping the texture mediums and objects with an assortment of palette knives. Painting with a palette knife is a very immediate and engaging way to manipulate materials and often helps the artist to loosen up and ‘play’ with the process more.

Some of the students created multiple layers – scraping away areas that they didn’t quite like and then adding on more to shape it differently. One of the most powerful things about art making is that it helps us to become more accepting of so called ‘mistakes’ because we learn to work with the image until it feels right for that moment. This is why I often tell people that there are no mistakes in art. Each mark on the canvas leads to the next, in the same way that each life experience moves us to the next. Similarly, I’m sure the teens and their sense of Jewish identity will be shaped by their time in Israel and the experiences leading up to it. It is my hope that they will continue to utilize creative mediums (drawing, painting, writing, music, dancing) to explore and express their evolving identities.

I’m looking forward to creating more workshops and exploring this theme…
Enjoy some more of the creations from the workshop below!

One of Hope’s canvases!
      
Another finished piece, exploring the elements:
shells, rocks, molding paste, & paint
One of the pieces, reflecting land and water using many textures
including pieces of pretzels and chips!
Gel medium applied with a palette knife
and acrylic paint
All of the finished paintings!

Artsbridge ~ The Show!







The Artsbridge Gala Art Show was beautiful, moving, and very powerful. I will let the images of the student artwork and their final projects speak for themselves! I have created an individual post for each Palestinian/Israeli student pair – showing their finished piece as well as sharing the narratives that they wrote to accompany the art piece. Stay tuned for their individual posts which I’m working on now:)
Enjoy!

Paired Projects in Progress!















The Israeli and Palestinian pairs are hard at work on their final collaborative pieces, which will be included in the Show this Thursday! We’ve taken to calling it “studio crunch time” as the teens have been spending longer and longer hours in the studio!

It is a fascinating and intense process to watch unfold. Some of the pairs have been working smoothly (almost as one artist) from day one, while others have had many starts, stops, and revisions as they continue their dialogue and artist process. There have been some tears, some anger, but above all: growth and a shift, no matter how subtle. I am incredibly proud of their processes and the heart behind their work. I wanted to share a few pictures of the students over the past few days as they continue their projects.

Day 8 – Fun with Viewfinders






Today I asked the students to pick a an image from a magazine or book. Then, using a handmade viewfinder (a piece of paper with a small square cut out from it) they found a section on the art piece that they were particularly drawn to. By concentrating on only the square seen through the viewfinder they were able to explore the idea of mini-compositions within a larger composition and play with the idea of abstraction.

After finding the new image within the larger image, I had the students do a sketch of that section. From the sketch they created a painting in acrylic.

Here are a few examples of their work from today:)