Stories in Art from the de Young Summer Art Camp

This blog post was submitted by Ashley Harris.

It’s summertime at the de Young, which means that the museum’s Summer Art Camp is in full swing and the Hamon Education Tower has been filled with talented young artists and creative energy. During week one, campers explored the theme of “Mixed Media Madness,” creating pieces that incorporated a range of materials and techniques including oil pastel and watercolor resist, splatter painting, masking, and plein air ink wash paintings. The incredible art making continued into week two as campers studied works in the de Young’s permanent collection and crafted their own pieces centered around the idea of “Stories in Art.”

Art inspired by the Japanese Tea Garden

The youngest group of artists, the Apprentices, could be found investigating the process of storytelling and construction and how it relates to art making.

The Apprentices group photo

The Apprentices had many opportunities to find inspiration in the galleries and were able to collaborate during a scavenger hunt activity that helped them to find specific landscape features like foreground, middle ground, and background.

Two Apprentices on a scavenger hunt in the de Young galleries

After seeking out these elements in the de Young’s landscape painting collection, the Apprentices used their careful observations to create layered scenes with tag and oil pastel drawings. These dimensional pieces incorporated aesthetic landscape elements and also allowed the artists to tell a visual story with a beginning, middle, and end.

The Apprentices used their careful observations to create layered scenes

The Apprentices also learned how artists tell stories through color. After investigating James Abbott McNeill Whistler’s The Gold Scab, the Apprentices created a list of colors with moods to match. Final monochromatic paintings were made that showcased the artists’ ideas and their skilled use of light and dark color values.

The Artisans focused on inspiration during the week and pondered the questions “Where does inspiration come from?” and “Where do artists get their ideas?”

A group photo of the Artisans

During the week, the Artisans ventured out of their studio to find inspiration out in the surrounding Golden Gate Park. At the Japanese Tea Garden, the Artisans warmed up their artist eyes by sketching a view of the Tea Garden’s iconic drum bridge.

Artisans gain inspiration from the Japanese Tea Garden's drum bridge

After walking further into the garden, the young artists were able to create art pieces on-site as they experimented with sumi ink, and discovered the distinctive marks made by bamboo pens and brush washes. The Artisans used their experimentations to create small-scale paintings of a Buddha sculpture and the pagodas nestled within the garden. The finished pieces tell a story, not only about the place itself, but about each young artist and their unique experience with their tools and materials as well.

Art inspired by the Japanese Tea Garden

The oldest group of campers, the Masters, looked for inspiration outside of the de Young all week, developing ideas that reflected the environment outside the museum walls.

The Masters pictured in a group photo

The Masters also utilized the neighboring Japanese Tea Garden as a site of observation. This oldest group created careful drawings of the pagodas in the Tea Garden using many sheets of transparent vellum and pen. The finished layered drawings were hung on the glass walls of the eighth floor of the de Young tower’s art studio, where the sunlight illuminated the beautiful marks and thoughtful observations recorded by each artist.

Layered drawings created by the masters illuminated by sunlight in the tower

Later in the week, the Masters continued to study the relationship between structure and environment by creating sculptural miniature tree houses with corrugated cardboard, paint, and polymer clay.

A sculptural miniature tree house created by the Masters

This diorama project was the group’s favorite as it allowed them to design and construct their own personal setting of shelter and reflection.

Stay tuned for more Stories in Art from the de Young Summer Art Camp!