CVHS’s En Plein Air Paintings


The students outside, working on their landscapes (Credit: Mrs. Rory Maraccio Schaffer)

Eleanor Shaw

Watercolor, an art form in which color bleeds onto paper, tinting it and bringing about a stunning tapestry of hues, has been a method of self expression recently explored in Mrs. Rory Marcaccio Schaffer’s Art and Design 2. Displayed in the front office, students are greeted with a gallery composed of portraits of gentle monsters and graceful autumn landscapes.

Students working on their artwork (Credit: Eleanor Shaw)

In order to develop a well founded understanding of painting using wet media, students experimented with wet-on-wet, wet-on-dry, and graded washes. This exploration of different methods of using watercolor served as a starting point to form the aforementioned watercolor monsters, lovingly referred to as “Splotch Monsters” by the class. Mrs. Schaffer stated that, during the creation of these works of art, the students “[played] with wet media” whilst “creating writing and creating stories for each Splotch Monster.” To make these creatures, students used watercolor paint to make a runny, paint-splatter-esque base and later markers and pencils to add detail and cohesion to the piece; Mrs. Schaffer describes this letting the shape of the paint “dictate the form.” Enhancing their artwork, students created stories to be paired with their pieces, which can be found displayed alongside each painting.

The Splotch Monsters in the main office (Photo By: Eleanor Shaw)

One Splotch Monster that can be found within the main office is that of a mother, a painting made by the student Magadalena Binto Perez. While making her piece, Perez saw that as she began drawing the form of a woman, she noticed that it appeared that she was holding a baby. From there, she was inspired to create a beautiful piece about motherhood, raising a child, and leaving one’s legacy behind for the next generation.

One of the most dazzling features of a Virginian autumn has to be the warm leaves turning bright shades of reds, oranges, and yellows as winter settles in. Taking full advantage of this, the students created  “en plein air “ paintings. Using observational skills, the class painted landscapes as they saw them in the moment. This was a method largely used during the Impressionist movement. Some of the most notable artists who used this technique include Claude Monet and Vincent van Gogh. Experimenting with this method of painting, students in the class used watercolor to communicate what they saw in the foliage through art, formulating vibrant pieces .

When asked about this landscape project, student Jayden Vafier noted that it was a “wonderful experience,” saying that her favorite part of the project was the freedom of choosing the angles that she desired to paint. You can find Vafier’s piece displayed in the front classroom alongside her peers.

Brightening up the dreary winter, Mrs. Schaffer’s Art and Design 2 has provided CVHS students with a colorful sight–and lovingly created at that. As previously mentioned, to find these works displayed, head to the main office on the first floor.