Here are my Painting I students at the opening reception for their vanitas inspired art exhibit.
The library at NVC has permanent exhibition space, specially built to accommodate 18" x 24" canvases. This year, my painting and art appreciation students were given the opportunity to create artwork for this space. The art appreciation course worked collaboratively; their assignment was to choose an artist to emulate, in terms of subject matter and/or style. Their interpretations were very creative, ranging from Kandinsky to Banksy.
This was the fourth painting for my beginning painting class. To make still-life painting more engaging, students were introduced to the history of vanitas painting. Vanitas literally means 'empty' or 'worthless.' They are symbolic paintings of earthly goods that exploit the beauty of the subject matter while referencing the transience of life. Everything from the obvious skull and hourglass to cut flowers and exotic foods were included in these 17th century artworks. My students had to create a contemporary interpretation of this theme and set up their own still life to paint. The technical part of the assignment required them to grid out their images and glaze over a grisaille underpainting. Beginning with the grisaille allowed the value scale to be established first, and referenced the technique of painters like Vermeer. Each student photographed their still-life and gridded the images to aid in enlarging the scene on canvas. Glazing is a challenging process that requires an understanding of color interaction to create a successful image. Since the colors are transparent, each layer changes the value and saturation level of the paint. If done correctly, the image glows in a way that mimics oil painting. My painters did a wonderful job pushing the layers and building up the glazes to create some very realistic effects.
I am really proud of the work created by both classes. The paintings will be on exhibit for the rest of the year, go check it out if you are on campus!