It has been a while since my experience in Nicaragua. I feel that the experience has made a huge impact in so many ways that I could not even begin to name them all.
One of the most memorable times there was when I taught a portrait painting class to the youth of Limay. The program encouraged us to combine our personal interests as artists with what we felt would benefit the participating youth. It was exciting because I really wanted to share what my experiences as a student of the arts at MICA with these kids. Since I too am a student, I felt that we shared this strong desire to increase our knowledge about something we felt passionate about. I felt that through teaching them something that I greatly cared about would help create a stronger understanding between the group and the kids. Although my Spanish speaking skills were limited, I felt confident that I would have no problem expressing my enthusiasm. The visual arts, after all is a non verbal language that has the power to break down cultural boundaries. It is a very felt and intuitive language. Participants only need eyes and feeling to share the beautiful language of images.
The class that I taught was over portraiture. I chose this subject because I wanted them to improve their observational skills. When a student first begins his or her studies in art, I feel that their preconceived notion of an object inhibits them from seeing an object as it really is. When trying to paint a person for example, one first impulsively responds by drawing the eyes as two ovals- the nose as a sharp triangle. I wanted to show them that the beauty of the variety of differences found in human features. There are shapes and colors found in a face that the artist must closely observe to discover. And when this moment happens, it is a delight because these details are what makes a person unique.
I first began by loosening them up with having them draw only parts of pictures. This way they only pay attention to shapes of positive and negative space registering the image as an object. Afterwards, I taught them to mix skin tones with the primary colors. I spoke to them to pay attention to the sensation of warm and cool colors when light hits the surface of the models face. The students were extremely engaged and asked a lot of questions. When I walked around to show some demonstrations, they took my suggestions very seriously and implemented what I taught in their work. Many of them begin several paintings. At the end of the session, the kids discussed in a casual critique what pieces they felt were most successful.
The Portraiture class that I taught was very fun, and I hope it taught the youth of Limay the importance of paying attention to the unique details that are found in all of us.