Studio Montclair & WAE Center Collaborate on Student Portrait Project

JSDD’s WAE Center studio artists have been members of Studio Montclair for many years.  Enjoying a fully inclusive community of artist opportunities and exhibits has been a truly rewarding experience. As the Covid – 19 pandemic and quarantine stretched into the spring of 2021, the two organizations looked for ways to work together and bring a different sort of collaboration to the students and artists.

The Portrait Project was conceived as an educational and artistic opportunity where both JSDD’s WAE Center and Studio Montclair’s Art Academy brought their facilitators and students to a shared table…and created this reflective work. 

This work is on exhibit from August 1 – August 31, at the gallery of Studio Montclair at 127 Bloomfield Avenue, Montclair, NJ.  Opening reception to be held “In Real Life” on Saturday August 7 from 1-5pm.  Full Covid safety measures will be taken!  More information about the reception.

Studio Montclair & JSDD’s WAE Center Collaborate on Student Portrait Project


In the words of the art facilitators

JSDD’s WAE Center involved all art facilitators in the Portrait Project. Each took on the challenge in their own unique style, and generated classes and work of great diversity.

Esther Tanahashi:

The most memorable classes were when members focused on the detail of drawing faces. One class was all about the difference shapes that faces, and heads come in. We did the same with the shapes of eyes, mouths, ears, and noses! We had quite a lot of fun with that. Then comes the variety of human expression. In a following class, we drew a big shape of a head of our choice. Looking at all the features we had drawn before we picked some to cut out and paste on the big face. We cut out eyebrows, noses, hair and made up this big portrait. We had some good laughs. Someone suggested adding glasses, beards, moustaches. That class was lively and fun.

Faye Graye:

We worked on how to construct a face by looking at a video which explained the planes of a face and showed us how to break down the spaces between features. These techniques were practiced by each member. We did self-portraits by looking in a mirror. We also did fractured portraits where we drew lines across a portrait and colored the spaces in any way you wanted to.

Lisette Rotman:

Working one-on-one, we began by looking at different examples of self-portraits, some more realistic and others very abstract and colorful.  We continued the technique of pastels with watercolor on tap which we had used in a previous class. Hesitant to create a self-portrait, Erin first created a portrait of her dog Rosie. I explained that it can be however she wants and perhaps to start by thinking about the details, like what her shirt looks like, her hair color etc. Once she got started, she was very into it and extremely focused.  She did a beautiful pastel drawing and would check herself in the mirror from time to time for reference. She would giggle sometimes while creating her piece.

Yvette Lucas:

Monotype self-portrait prints were created in the Monday and Wednesday “WAE 2 Connect” printmaking classes. Each member was sent a picture of themselves taken from a Zoom class photo to use as reference. In this process members printed a background color or design using acrylic paint for the first layer. With their picture underneath a printing (Gelli) plate, they worked in marker or paint on top of the plate to form the 2nd layer.  The print is made by laying the paper on top of the painted Gelli plate then rubbing on the back of the paper to transfer the image; the number of layers they could add to a print was unlimited.

Members were encouraged to play with the image by trying different backgrounds and using color, texture, and line to illustrate and embellish their image. They could follow the photo, create an abstract of themselves, or illustrate their feelings.JSDD Portrait Project

The Portrait Project: art in the moment

During the Portrait Project, everyone produced highly personal and thought-provoking images of what they felt in the moment. One person, who does not like images of themselves, might draw the portrait first then obscure it with a painted layer while another has only their head floating in colored backgrounds with layers of color. You might find them as characters in a fantasy or simply a line drawing sitting in their home. The results are as varied as their personalities.

Learn more