March 8


No. 12

Art appreciation at GHA
"Night Sleeper" by Andrew Wyeth
Cultivating an 'art gut' - with Miss Ana
Speaking with Ms. Ana about the many facets of art, you very quickly realize that this is someone who brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to the art program at Gig Harbor Academy.  With over 20 years of teaching experience including 13 years at Annie Wright, and a pedigree of training, she provides the students with a multi-layered approach.  "Art relates to everything from high thinking to cultural patterns; from decorative arts to fine arts.  My goal as a teacher is to provide the children with a deeper understanding of the hierarchy of artistic expression throughout the ages," she explains, detailing how this really begins to differentiate when you delve into painting, sculpture and architecture.

With this historical perspective in mind, Ms. Ana teaches the students at GHA using different mediums to create collage pieces that represent the art they are learning about in class.  Mixed media is one of her favorite approaches, and she often has the children experimenting with the contrasts of ink and oil, wet and dry, charcoal and oil, and pencil and watercolor.  "The kids here are so willing, enthusiastic and attentive," she says, crediting them with ideas that often urge her on to the next class project.  "I keep my ears open."  

This element of being open to ideas exudes from Ms. Ana as she discusses the inspiration she takes from landscapes and the importance of appreciating art in our environment.  This led her to the creation of the GHA Art Gallery in the childcare area which is a project she is very proud of, and hopes to enhance by installing special bulletin boards for showcasing the children's art.  "It is essential to an art program to view your work and be able to step back and see what you, and others, have accomplished.  That's what teaches you about yourself." 

Using principles from the Getty Institute, she applies a four discipline approach involving materials and methods to instruct on art production, art history, art analysis and aesthetics.  She wants the children to be able to put their art in perspective and listen to their "art gut." 

This is developed by encouraging the children to take five steps back from their creations in order to really analyze their work.  "That's my favorite part," Ms. Ana says with a smile, "seeing the wonder; that look on their faces.  You can't get much better than that for an art teacher."

Watching Antiques Roadshow with my son a few weeks ago, the art expert was asking the owner of a painting if they had any knowledge about its origins.  My son blurted out, "That's an Andrew Wyeth!" and proceeded to give me a history lesson about the Wyeth family.  Skeptical, I watched as the narration unfolded and the art expert discussed the history behind the painting, which did turn out to be an Andrew Wyeth.  "See!" he said, proudly.  "How did you know that?" I asked my son.  "Ms. Ana taught me."  Of course she did, I thought.  And to paraphrase our GHA art expert, it doesn't get much better than that.

Author:    Amanda Marley-Clarke