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Shining Stars • An Appreciation of my Students


Still Life on watercolor with sumie ink                                                                © Daisy Gilman

I think of my students and friends as constellations; glittering stars near and far in the galaxy of my affections.

Daisy, one of my students from my Tuesday class at CandP Coffee, just finished this gorgeous interpretation of a still life we had set up for a previous CandP watercolor event. Here is a photo of Daisy at her very first watercolor lesson three years ago.


 Daisy used a previous still life arrangement at CandP for her inspiration.

Daisy has been my student in my CandP Coffee House watercolor class for almost three years, and because she  has the talent, the smarts and she practices, she is progressing by leaps and bounds. In fact, so many of my CandP watercolor and drawing students have displayed such extraordinary advances in my class that I can't include them all.

Many in my class have started as beginners and have all forged ahead in their own directions.  I give an assignment focusing on a concept and a technique for each lesson with a side look at specific artists who used these approaches in their paintings. Then each student comes up with their own version.     

Once we worked with Elizabeth Kinkaid's book, Dance with Light, and worked with masking and slowly building brilliant color in flowers. (or whatever else we wanted to paint, for that matter)  At the end of the unit, Elizabeth kindly allowed us to visit her Kirkland studio.


The students started with a careful drawing, masked off the flower shape and gradually built their glazes into a fully convincing iris, radiant and ruffled. (with a few tulips thrown in)

Another time I introduced the concept of granulation in pigment, and since it was Easter and this technique would work for any furry beast, the students painted rabbits. (with a good look at Durer's lovely hare)


And Mary painted a polar bear as well!

Polar Bear                                                                                           ©Mary Ross

Sometimes I even (gasp!) go out of West Seattle to teach.  Here's an Idaho workshop where students who suffered from FEAR of WATERCOLOR (a common psychosis) actually had a good time creating leaf designs.

 Cameron, proprietor of CandP Coffee and patron of the arts.                                                                                                                                                   .

Watercolor, in my opinion, is the most challenging of all paint mediums.  With my commercial painting business, I have worked with all sorts of paint vehicles from encaustic to making pigments from mushrooms, and I have a great respect for artists who are fluent in watercolor. And, as a teacher, it is so satisfying to watch a student advance with confidence in this difficult medium.  
   Wendy and her magic palatte


Adam is ready to start his painting.


Basic drawing skills are the backbone of any art program. These students worked with me on the concepts of line, negative and positive space, value and composition.

Drawing teaches how to SEE and effectively translate these perceptions to the 2D surface of paper.

When the weather is good, we go down to Lincoln Park and paint among the trees.  Here Joan is assessing the light shining up from the bay.  Mmm.  How to do it? What's first?

We also took field trips to exhibits. (ahem)  My painting on the right!

Jill and me at the Pacific Northwest Watercolor group show.

I am now mentoring five artists in private classes in my home and studio.  Classes are arranged at our mutual convenience and set up so the student can choose half hour or hour sessions.

Teri working on an assignment in my studio.  Atelier session, right?  Every once in a while I come around and rap her on her knuckles.

I have taught and made art for all my adult life, and many times my teaching has supported me and my family so I could pursue my personal creative work.

I'd like to honor my students in this blog and thank them for the many opportunities they gave me and continue to give me for growth and opportunity in my own art.

Patricia painting in Lincoln Park


Me teaching English in the barrio....Peace Corps 1965-1967

It is so true that a teacher learns more about her field when she teaches it, and I can vouch that as a young student graduating from an art department where abstract expressionism and gesture were the paramount concerns of the faculty, I had little or no experience with drawing or design.  Teaching art at all levels from kindergarten to freshman college drawing and painting classes helped me hone my skills in those areas.        Again, THANKYOU…from my first teaching experiences up to today.

Shine on, you stars of the art firmament!


Reader Comments (4)

Dear Jennifer,

Thank you for the lovely appreciation! You are an exceptional teacher and inspiring human being.

Lots of love to you,

January 19, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterPatricia

Jennifer---your creativity is staggering. You are an excellent teacher and fascinating person.

With love,

January 19, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterNancy Hertl

Having the opportunity to learn from someone who loves her work and really wants to help others grow is a great find these days. Thank you for sharing your talent, Jennifer!

January 19, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterTeri

Hi Jennifer. Thanks for brightening my morning! Being away from your class and my watercolor friends right nnow is hard so I am trying to keep up with everyone through the magic of the "WEB"!! It was fun to see the newbies and of course the oldies! Keep up the good work!

love Joan

January 19, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJoan OByrne

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