Monthly Archives: August 2010

Seeing and Being There

By Heather Cron
Yourspace Summer Intern from Portland High School

Edward Hopper (United States, 1882–1967), Custom House, Portland, 1927, watercolor on paper, 14 x 20 inches. Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art. Gift of Robert W. Huntingon, 1946.232.

Edward Hopper (United States, 1882–1967), Captain Strout’s House, Portland Head, 1927, watercolor on paper, 14 x 20 inches. Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art. The Ella Gallup Sumner and Mary Catlin Sumner Collection Fund, 1928.3.

I was familiar with the Custom House building before seeing the painting. When I saw the painting, I recognized the building and it’s long railing with oval designs. During my week at ARTREK, we took the campers on a walk over to the Custom House in order to make a painting of it. We approached, held onto the railings and circled around the building. We had fun getting a good look at every angle. I imagined Edward Hopper doing the same thing, years ago. The building itself hasn’t changed much, but its surroundings are much different from the time Hopper painted the Custom House. I looked for the building that was in the background of the painting, but it does not exist today. During my time at the Custom House, I was sketching and I noticed the city around it. There were many people walking around the Old Port, which is always busy in the summer. Back at the Museum, while looking at the painting of the Custom House, I notice not a single person is painted into the scene. As I continue to look at the painting I notice signs of life in the windows. The window shades in the painting, some drawn, and some open, shows the viewer that people do exist. The artist Edward Hopper did not paint the front entrance of the Custom House, instead he chose to focus on the side of the building even with the streetlight obstructing the view. I think this angle gives the viewer the feeling they are really walking down the street and have come across the Custom House.

Captain Strout’s House, Portland Head Light is my favorite Edward Hopper painting in the Museum. The fact that the actual Light House isn’t the main focus is probably what catches my attention. Instead, the painting’s focus is on the house and this makes me wonder, “Who lives there?” Like the Custom House painting, not a single soul is in the scene, yet it has an essence of life. Maybe it’s the freshly mowed grass that lets us know people do inhabit the Light House!

I love this painting for its colors, the blue sky without a single cloud, and the strong sun casting shadows on the buildings—you really feel like you’re there…on site.

Yourspace, a three-week studio art and Museum summer internship program, provides six of Portland’s most talented young artists at Portland High School, Deering High School, and Casco Bay High School with access to the renowned works of art at Portland Museum of Art, experience with professional art educators, intensive art-making, and a paid internship to help prepare them for their futures. In week one, Yourspace interns developed special projects related to Museum exhibitions, collections, and education programs; including the new teen audio tour and blog posts. Week two consisted of assisting educators and teaching children in the Museum’s ARTREK summer camp program. In the third and final week, the interns were given their own studio in the Museum’s Community Studio. The Museum was their muse and part of their creative process, as they produced a body of artwork in response to this special environment.

Getting Your Wiggles Out: Seeing It On Paper vs. Running Around With Eight-Year-Olds

By Courtney McGorrill
Yourspace Summer Intern from Deering High School

Mark Tobey (United States, 1890–1976), Broadway Afternoon, 1950, opaque and transparent watercolor on antique laid paper, 18 3/4 x 24 1/2 inches. The Ella Gallup Sumner and Mary Catlin Sumner Collection Fund, 1955.263.

Broadway Afternoon is an overwhelming painting. It’s in your face and grabbing your attention from countless numbers of areas, just like a group of kids, like the ones I recently spent a week working with in the Museum’s ARTREK program. The image has bold, dense layers of lines that are so packed and full, no matter how many times you look at the work, or how long you look at it, there’s always going to be something you feel like you’ve missed. During the week, it felt like I was learning something new about the kids everyday. They would show up with a different outfit and I would learn about their personal style: Do they like skirts? Do they have a favorite color to wear or a favorite shirt? While making art I would discover bits and pieces of their personality, like are they organized and neat, or loose and free form, do they prefer realistic or imaginative perspectives.

This painting is so full of movement, excitement, and speed; it’s hard to keep your eyes in one place. While working in ARTREK, there was always something to do, and everyone was always moving, working, and creating. We traveled around Portland, taking in the buzz of the city and making our own cityscapes of familiar buildings that we never take the time to look at, like our new library. Even at lunchtime, the kids were kept moving, getting their “wiggles” out with games like duck-duck-goose and red light, green light. We had countless projects in the studio, teaching another technique. Mark Tobey has drawn from so many techniques in this painting; it’s interesting to see them all come together, like when we made a large-scale seascape with watercolor using different techniques for the rock, ocean, and sky.

In this painting, there is little you can be sure of. There are so many ways to look at this piece, it’s really one that you need to see for yourself and draw your own conclusions for. One person might focus on the faces that fade into the background and one another. Someone else might see how the lines create the architecture of the city buildings. Another person may see it all at once. It’s those different perspectives that are essential to gaining an understanding of a painting. What I find really interesting is hearing what a child has to say. Their view of the world is often so innocent, and simplistic, that their idea could clear any confusion you create by over thinking.

Yourspace, a three-week studio art and Museum summer internship program, provides six of Portland’s most talented young artists at Portland High School, Deering High School, and Casco Bay High School with access to the renowned works of art at Portland Museum of Art, experience with professional art educators, intensive art-making, and a paid internship to help prepare them for their futures. In week one, Yourspace interns developed special projects related to Museum exhibitions, collections, and education programs; including the new teen audio tour and blog posts. Week two consisted of assisting educators and teaching children in the Museum’s Artrek summer camp program. In the third and final week, the interns were given their own studio in the Museum’s Community Studio. The Museum was their muse and part of their creative process, as they produced a body of artwork in response to this special environment.

Artistic Desires

By Emma Maasch
Yourspace
Summer Intern from Casco Bay High School

Ellsworth Kelly (United States, born 1923), Corn #11, 1959, watercolor wash on paper, 22 11/16 x 23 5/8 inches, Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art. The Ella Gallup Sumner and Mary Catlin Sumner Collection Fund, 1975.57.

When given the opportunity to write a blog entry on one piece in the exhibit American Moderns, I immediately knew which piece to choose as the subject. It is a piece that thrills me to the point that I want to take a paintbrush to paper and let my hand flow freely, to revel in a style of creativity which lacks inhibition and inspires a part of me to come alive that hasn’t existed in me since I was a child. However, this piece displays absolutely no juvenile qualities when it comes to skill. It showcases the artist’s mastery, luring me and all surrounding observers to take a closer, longer look. As I sat on one of the Museum’s blue fold out stools in front of the piece, one pair of enthused women looking at it to my right exclaimed, “I can tell that it’s corn and there isn’t even corn in the picture!” The expression of gesture moves the artistic spirit that inhabits every bone in my body, and I am awestruck by the amount of depth and value that can be portrayed using minimal strokes and only one color. The control he has over the medium and the paper tells me that this artist knows art better than he knows himself.

My experience as a Yourspace Intern at the Portland Museum of Art has been the experience of my young life as a girl who feels so passionately about art and everything art related. One of the benefits of being at the Museum and being immersed in the atmosphere of the art world is the discovery that there are a million sides to every artist. I have always had a profound respect for Ellsworth Kelly and appreciated his immense contribution to the progression of the modernist movement. At age four I recall seeing Kelly’s Red, Yellow, Blue 1 with my mother, and I have always been fascinated with his bold use of medium, from his massive sculptures to his incredibly bright room-sized prints. But, I had never loved his works as much I love his corn series. Sometimes my favorite pieces by an artist are not what they are most famous for.

So, as you can imagine, I was thrilled when I saw that my favorite piece in the show was the cover of the exhibition’s catalogue. Corn (11) appeals to people of all ages and backgrounds, whether it’s adults touring the exhibit, 15-year-old interns, or 12 high-energy children at a summer art camp. When we were teaching the kids during ARTREK how to experiment with watercolor on paper, we did a project inspired by Corn (11) in which we made a painting of a stalk of swiss chard. Seeing the kids smile, laugh, make mistakes, and discover flooded me with memories of discovering those very things at the same age. It was wonderful to see how different kids worked at different paces and how some experimented with color and line. They would ask me if I thought their pieces were good, searching for reassurance because the style was so foreign to them. There is nothing more wonderful than watching a child’s artistic desires blossom.

Yourspace, a three-week studio art and Museum summer internship program, provides six of Portland’s most talented young artists at Portland High School, Deering High School, and Casco Bay High School with access to the renowned works of art at Portland Museum of Art, experience with professional art educators, intensive art-making, and a paid internship to help prepare them for their futures. In week one,
Yourspace interns developed special projects related to Museum exhibitions, collections, and education programs; including the new teen audio tour and blog posts. Week two consisted of assisting educators and teaching children in the Museum’s ARTREK summer camp program. In the third and final week, the interns were given their own studio in the Museum’s Community Studio. The Museum was their muse and part of their creative process, as they produced a body of artwork in response to this special environment.