Completed portfolio: Zeyuan Chen

Zeyuan Chen is 17 and will graduate from Brighton High School in June with three APs and a GPA of around 3.7. Ze emigrated from Kunming Prefecture at age 9. Her native language is Mandarin but she speaks flawless English. Ze’s father is a professor in China and her mother trained as a mathematician but works as a waitress here. (She completed this portfolio while maintaining excellent grades at one of the top 100 public high schools in the US.)
Ze started studying with me in Fall 2007, although I’ve known her for much longer than that. She has studied Chinese calligraphy and painting, which is evident in the delicate brush work of her piece, Qing Yi, which is a setting of a friend’s poem.

Self-portrait, graphite, approx. 18X24, 2007

Sandy’s parents’ restaurant interior, graphite, approx. 18X24, 2008

Gail as Isabella with the pot of Basil, oil on canvas, approx. 18X24, 2008
Four bananas, colored pencil, approx. 18X24 overall, 2007

Peonies life drawing, graphite, approx. 18X24, 2007
My shoe, graphite, approx. 18X24, 2007
Qing Yi, colored pencil and ink calligraphy, approx. 18X24, 2007
Skeleton life drawing, graphite, approx. 18X24, 2008
Sock, graphite, approx. 18X24, 2008
Pile of shoes, marking pen on newsprint, approx. 18X18, 2006
Foot, graphite, approx. 9X12, 2008
Shoes, colored pencil and marking pen, approx. 18X24, 2005
Classroom window molding, graphite, approx. 18X24,
10-minute figure sketch, marking pen, approx. 18X24, 2005

Mary as John the Baptist (unfinished), acrylic on canvas, approx. 18X24, 2007

Paint Taos June 15-21, 2008

Save $100
Register by February 20, 2008
Esplanade Travel (718) 597-1414
[email protected]
[email protected]
Along the Rio Grande, by little old me

June is the perfect time for plein air painting in Taos! Join workshop instructors Shelli Robiner-Ardizzone and Carol L. Douglas and experience the beauty and majesty of the western landscape that captivated Georgia O’Keeffe, Nicolai Fechin and many others.


The fee of $1200 includes five days of painting, lodging at the historic Sagebrush Inn and two meals per day.

There will be both morning and afternoon painting sessions en plein air with a midday break for lunch. The days will also include individualized instruction along with instructor demos.
Painters are welcome to work in oils, pastels, acrylics and watercolor. Materials list and daily schedule will be supplied upon registration A branch of Artisan-Santa Fe art store is nearby.
For more information about instruction, contact Shelli Ardizzone.


Call Jeannie at Esplanade Travel to coordinate flights and lodging reservation, at (718) 597-1414 or email her here.

Reserve your workshop space with a $550 deposit by March 1, 2008.


Shelli Robiner-Ardizzone has led workshops for 8 years at the Women’s Studio Center, LIC, and at Great Neck Arts Center. She has been awarded a residency at the Vermont Studio Center and grants from the National Academy School and Art Students League. (

Carol L. Douglas is the chairperson of New York Plein Air Painters and teaches plein air, studio and figure painting in Rochester, NY. She studied at the Art Students League and elsewhere. (

Handle with care

The saddest sound in the studio is the plink of a pastel stick shattering on the floor. (It sounds like the ka-ching of a cash register.) But there are many ways to damage pastels.

A student had stored these pastels in a nylon carrier which holds six plastic boxes. Each box contained a selection of hard and soft pastels in roughly analogous colors. Because there was no rice or foam or compression holding the pastels in place, they danced jigs against each other. The resultant grey slurry coated the sticks, making it impossible to tell what color each pastel was.

We are cleaning them and putting a bed of rice in the bottom of each tray, but the process takes hours. Better to avoid the problem.

White rice (uncooked, please!) is a tried and true method of keeping pastels clean. It is cheap and renewable. (Be careful disposing of it, since it might tempt small animals.) Nevertheless, little rice-filled boxes are a pain in the neck to handle en plein air.

My favorite pastel box has hard panels which press in place with Velcro seals. These hold my pastels securely between two sheets of foam. My local art supply store has discontinued it because it isn’t well-made (I’ll vouch for that) but rather than show you some commercial alternatives, I’d suggest that you look at this delightful rendition made out of a cigar box. For my purposes, it’s too small, but I do like the price.

Cori Nicholls’ cigar box pastel pochade. Devilishly clever, follow her link, below!

I have an old Dalor-Rowney wooden pastel box which might be perfect for making a larger version of Cori’s box.