Arts & Entertainment

Roxbury Students Learn Oil Painting from a Master

MaryBeth Thielhelm discusses technique at RHS Credits: Roxbury High School
MaryBeth Thielhelm Artist-in-Residence at RHS Credits: courtesy of Roxbury High School
Renee Zengel, Art Teacher at RHS at the Artist-in-Residence Workshop Credits: Roxbury High School
RHS Students Practicing Technique at Artist-in-Residence Workshop Credits: Roxbury High School
Tara Egan works on oil painting at artist-in-residence workshop Credits: Roxbury High School

ROXBURY, NJ - Roxbury High School art students are learning techniques, and getting the lowdown on art as a career, from a professional: MaryBeth Thielhelm.

Thielhelm has been participating in the high school's artist-in-residence program over the past few months. Her final session will take place next week.

Twenty-three advanced art students from the Portfolio Development and AP Art Studio classes participated in three of four oil painting technique workshops and presentations offered between November 2016 and February 2017.

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To build an understanding of Thielhelm's body of work and technique, Roxbury students researched the artist and examined her pieces prior to her first visit in November. Evan VanBiert, a junior, said he enjoyed his interactions with Thielhelm.

“MaryBeth Thielhelm is a very accomplished oil painter who has had work in many galleries," VanBiert said. "One gallery is the Sears Peyton Gallery in New York City. Her artwork mainly consists of oil paintings, her subject matter mainly oceans. She creates these paintings by laying very thin washes of oil paint. I really love how she creates her paintings, slowly building up washes of oil paint. I also really like how she utilizes high contrast in her paintings.”

Thielhelm demonstrated her application techniques to the students in the first workshop and she worked one-on-one with them to discuss the inspirational pieces she selected and how to start the process.

Throughout the sessions, students paused for critique, contemplation and feedback from their peers as well as the artist herself.

“Students were able to work on their pieces in-between workshops and after each one were asked to describe their experience and write what they learned from the artist regarding technique, color, the process, using the brush, rag, their hands, etc.," said Joann Hughes, the high school's visual arts lead teacher. "They took relevant notes and wrote honestly about their interaction with the artist."

Hughes said she hopes the students "come away with a better understanding of the way an artist works, how they use the creative process and what it takes to succeed in the profession." She also said she hopes the young artists gain "a sense of accomplishment and pride in the work they created, and most of all, that they remember the shared experience as one that spurred their excitement, passion and resolution to work hard and reach their goals.”

Completed pieces will be on display in Roxbury schools and might be submitted to upcoming art shows and competitions. The Roxbury High School Fine Arts department is working on setting up additional artist-in-residence programs for ceramics and photography.

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