News Sketchbook

Students in Judith's painting class, 2008

Students in Judith's painting class, 2008

Ever wonder about the private lives of people in your art class?  You spend several weeks, working silently or chatting as you try techniques, expressing your creativity, flexing your brinksmanship during group critiques, and experience a temporary, art-based intimacy.  Some members of the class are open and supportive and others hold themselves aloof, deigning to indulge a little interest in the lessons but declaring their superiority with every posture.

Lois Barr, poet, writer and associate professor of Modern Languages and Literatures at Lake Forest College,  observed the group dynamics in her art class and has written a bang-up story about it.  She was a student in my Renaissance Painting Techniques class at the Chicago Botanic Garden.  I taught egg tempera painting, but also discussed the fine points of traditional gesso, which became the topic and title of her story, “Gesso”, newly published in Ekakshara, an annual multicultural magazine of visual arts and literature.  It all goes to show, you never know what people are thinking.  I was amazed to see Lois spin a tale of mystery, suspense, violence and artistic technical obsession from her quiet hours in my class at the lovely Chicago Botanic Garden.  You may order the latest issue of Ekakshara  with Lois’ story at:


Quartet, egg tempera, by Lois Barr

Quartet, egg tempera, by Lois Barr


4 responses to “News Sketchbook

  1. The Quartet is lovely and brings together symbolically many aspects of Lois’s life and work. Congratulations!


  2. Lois Barr’s writing is powerful and this story (“Gesso”) reels you in. I highly recommend it, as well as her poetry, featured in “East on Central” and many other places.


  3. Oh my goodness, thanks Judith for this lovely story and thanks to my friends Susan and Cynthia. “Gesso” was bought for a gorgeous anthology, Art From Art (Modernist Press, Los Angeles, 2011) which would make a terrific holiday gift.


  4. CONGRATULATIONS, Lois!! I will order the anthology– can’t wait to see it!


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