Nov 03 2011
A few snaps from our seniors’ classes
Assemblage begins next week. We broke over Hallowe’en to avoid having the kids’ work dominated by jack o’ lanterns, witches and other seasonally specific imagery.
Each of the four groups favours different media and styles. The youngest kids work predominantly in colour, laying down broad, soupy washes of gauche. The older ones like a mix of markers and paint, and are learning patience when blending dry and wet media. Their images tend towards the more representational and detailed. The pre-adolescents in this group sometimes sulk in frustration when results don’t match an inner sense of how things should look. We’ve been discussing process; that they really do know what’s “right”, that sometimes one needs to get through the “bad” work to get to the good; that it’s only time and practice before they get there.
The seniors’ class is all women, although recently someone brought a husband along , and he contributed a panel to her house. It’s the only early session, and participants arrive like a flock of little birds, chattering amongst themselves before settling to whatever task is at hand. The eldest participant is 90 years old, and amazingly hale. According to Anna M., our translator and assistant extraordinaire, the seniors always begin with ”I don’t know what to do…” Anna kibitzes and cajoles a bit. She says they encourage one another, and make suggestions as to what to paint. Their work is quite different from that of the kids and families, often drawing on centuries-old painting traditions, such as the scholar-artists’ “bird and flower” scrolls. The exquisite 13th century work below, by Qian Xuan, is one stellar example.
The ink and inkstone are all that remain from a long-ago exploration of sumi-e, Japanese brush painting. Ink wash painting originated in China during the Tang Dynasty (618-907), and was later adapted in Japan. Use of these materials was restricted to the elders’ classes, and used by only one person.