Posts Tagged ‘ self expression ’

The Class

For those that didn’t know, I have spent the last several weeks teaching an art class within the Capital District Psychiatric Center. My goal is to get funding to expand a program that makes fine art classes a part of mental health treatment both inside and outside the hospital in the city I live in: Albany, NY.

Again for those who didn’t know: this is a goal for me, because I know when I was inpatient in CDPC, art groups were important to me as a way to rebuild my life in the hard times I was having. The art groups were something I looked forward to each day when I was inpatient. AsĀ  teacher, I want to use art to help troubled people do what I did: get out of the hospital and live better lives outside of the mental health system. Mentally ill people can live full lives, hold jobs, and stay well. We can and do recover. I feel like art can help mentally ill people do that, and I am not alone in that belief.

In that spirit, I’d like to show some of the in-class demonstrations I have done. These are sketches and things I did during the class, demonstrating for my students, art techniques and skills.

It’s my hope that my students not only develop their own skill, but find ways to make art a part of thier lives once they are back living in the community –professionally, or non-professionally.

Art is important. I know from looking around my classroom, art is important to helping struggling people heal.

Some images:


Bulletin board of my student’s work


[update] 5/21

This past week the class has been working with mannikins (croquis) I was able to purchase with the grant money I received. The class has really latched on to drawing with croquis. This past week, I have been encourage students to pose the croquis and talk about an incident in their lives. The class has a two-fold purpose of not only teaching art, but as an informal part of the students therapy and recover from significant mental illness (all students are currently admitted on an in-patient basis). There are two images from this (my in-class demonstrations):

croquis/figure study charcoal sketch on paper

croquis/figure study charcoal sketch on paper


The first sketch: a student described a family member who had overcome addiction.


Croquis/figure study charcoal on paper

Croquis/figure study charcoal on paper


The pose is meant to describe a student’s experience during a recent depressive episode.



Adding some new works, older sketches and works are towards the bottom of the post.


Acrylic on paper, student prompt was to represent what “trouble” meant to them, based on a podcast from “This Modern Life”. Related to a San Francisco cafe whose proprietor struggles with Schizo-effective disorder.


Fayette Michigan, abandoned town and now a historical site. Watercolor on paper.


Lake Michigan, near Escanaba, Michigan. Watercolor on paper.


Sketch, charcoal on paper. Portraits.


Oil Pastel on paper. Prompt for this was encouraging students to depict “Safe Spaces”



Sketching architecture, reproduction of Van Gogh’s House at Arles.


Architectural study, perspective example. In this case a very quick study of the corner of Clinton and N. Pearl St. In-class example.


Study, landscape, another Van Gogh reproduction.


Study of Paul Klee’s “The Red Balloon,” from a lesson on using color and abstraction/ non-representational drawing.


Architectural study, from the book “Hudson Valley Ruins.”


Portrait, study. From a lesson about composition and placement of facial features.


Studies: faces and facial features.


Study, portraiture, faces and facial features.


Placement of facial features and composition.


Manet’s work “The Old Musician” has been a recurrent theme in my sketching. In this case, the “dread-locked cow-girl” is based off a figure in the Manet piece, and swaps the gender of a figure from Manet’s work.


Study, dog


Study, infant.


Study, tree trunk.

First, a figure study. Study of a child playing, including an illustrated armature (left). In class demonstration.


Reproduction, Paul Cezanne. Working on landscapes, explanation of horizon line. Oil pastel on paper.