The problem is how to remain an artist once you grow up. Pablo Picasso (1881-1973)
We have had so much fun the last three days!
Grace and I had a blast and learned a lot during a fabulous 3-day morning art class for homeschooled students by Barry Stebbing. Widely known for his excellent homeschool curriculum, How Great Thou Art, Mr. Stebbing is a popular exhibitor at the Home Educators of Virginia convention. I was excited to find he would be teaching in Chesapeake! Even more so when I discovered mom’s could take the class too!
I can’t remember the last time I picked up a paint brush that didn’t have a Sherwin Williams bucket under it! (I’m pretty sure that it was several decades ago in Mrs. Wagonshine’s Sunday School class.) I really did not know what to expect, but figured in a children’s art class, I couldn’t go wrong! Seated at a table with a few younger kids, and their older (teenaged) sisters, I learned to mix the three primary colors and white, neatly on my paper plate palette to make several shades of green and ultimately whatever color I want! I learned different brush strokes, and how to mix and place colors against a horizon or in consideration of light!
We all had fun learning to draw various cartoon characters using shapes and layering colors, how to make facial expressions, and draw hands (only three fingers!)! We used water based art markers, and then found we could use a wet paint brush and make a light wash with them! Mr. Stebbing demonstrated how to use colored pencils in various ways on the paper and how to layer them to get lighter and darker shading, and richer more complex colors! Everything he demonstrated, we did at the same time on our matching worksheets. Our hands-on learning included practicing with lines, shapes, shading, horizon, background, middle ground and foreground, and vanishing points from one and two point perspectives.
After a homework assignment of a self-portrait the first night, we were all ready to learn the symmetry of the face; and correct a few common mistakes: placing eyes too far up (on the foreheads), drawing hair that is flat to the head, and sketching mismatched, and too small ears in the wrong place!
Mr. Stebbing kept order in this class of 60 kids, many of whom were in the 6-10 age range. He really moved the class along, which kept the kids from getting bored, and enabled him to cover a lot of ground. To keep the artistic process stress-free, classical violin and piano favorites played lightly in the background while we worked on assignments.
The teaching was consistent, with key reminders repeated every day: “Everyone get’s frustrated – keep working!” “Lines, lines, lines, circles, circles, circles, ellipses, ellipses, ellipses!” He urged the children (and moms) to use color, LOTS of color, sketch light to dark, and always determine the direction of the light source.
Bless Mr. Stebbing! He started each day of class with a prayer, and a quick but effective slideshow packed with selections of beautiful art work by the masters which he introduced with interesting stories about the lives of the artists, and explanations of the style or period of the art, symbolism, artistic technique and notes on composition and framing. He closed the third day with a slideshow of religious works focusing on the passion of Jesus Christ with Handel’s Hallelujah Chorus playing!
He recommended and had available for sale at extremely good prices Prismacolor pencils (which have forever ruined me with their ease of blending and rich colors), sable paintbrushes and little kits of the primary plus white paint colors we used in class. An abundance of curriculum was available for sale. After the first day of class, The Daughter and I decided that we need to do art much more often because we both enjoyed it so very much! So, we purchased his curriculum God and the History of Art, an Art History, Art Appreciation, Art Techniques curriculum. We talked on the way home and decided that we are NOT waiting for our August 22 school start to begin working with God and the History of Art!
The Daughter takes a weekly art class at Homeschool Plus co-op, which we will keep up in addition to our decision to draw and paint at home! But this review was more about me – the intimidated, artistically unschooled adult! I really encourage moms to take the class for no other reason than to see how easy, and mess-free artwork can be when you are as organized as Saundra Stebbing is!
Barry’s lovely wife, Saundra has the three-day class routine down pretty well and was herself an inspiration, as she floated serenely amongst the mob of kids, working the cashier table, assisting with lighting and microphones, passing out art cards for the assignments and offering her own tips for keeping a clean palette and loading the paintbrush with paint!
We are very grateful to Ms. McCrea at Sovereign Grace Church in Chesapeake for making the class happen! These three days of introductory artistic expression will easily be remembered as one of the highlights of our summer! And just maybe the birth of a new discipline!