Very Fine Art Projects for Artists and Educators
by Rayma Peterson
Available on amazon.ca
In one new and concise volume, you can find all of the fruits and flora of Rayma Peterson’s career as an art educator. Twenty-five years in the making, the genesis of Very Fine Art Projects for Artists and Educators might easily have begun when she was a child “growing up with a paintbrush in her hand” thanks to her artist mother. It definitely flourished, however, when she was a post-secondary arts student in her native United States.
“I really didn't like how some of the professors were teaching art,” she explained. “I can't speak for the U of A but there were professors who were trying to force you into their mould, and I didn't like that.”
Eventually, she graduated and soon after found her artistic inspiration with the plants in the window of her friend’s place. She fell in love with their different shapes and colours, which drew her back to school to get a botany degree. After that, she received her education degree, specializing in elementary art and science. After a period of living in Barrhead, things really started to sprout.
“People started asking me to teach their kids. I started doing that in Barrhead and I volunteered in my children's classes teaching. Then I started doing professional development workshops and conferences, and I started marking art lessons for Alberta Distance Learning. I did all kinds of things. The art teaching really took off, especially when I moved here to St. Albert,” she continued.
“I developed a whole Art 30 course for distance learning: I developed it and illustrated it. I have to say it's one of the only courses that for Art 30 ... it fulfills all the requirements for the curriculum for Art 30 and it's been translated into French for the French schools and classes. I've had a lot of interesting experiences there. I ended up teaching a semester at the U of A. I taught a lot of art for the City of St. Albert. I substitute taught both for the school systems and for Alberta Distance Learning. I've taught every age from kindergarten through 12 including adults and artists and botanical artists and master gardeners.”
All she wants is to help instil and nurture the love of art in others.
This book, which is far from focused on botanical art, is a comprehensive manual that includes lessons on a vast range of different styles and methods, and draws on Indigenous art from different parts of the world as well.
It must have required much work to create a book such as this that is still easy to read and not too heavy on the hands.
“I developed the lessons ... some of them I've totally developed myself and some were modified from magazine articles and art education magazines and books. I decided to do my own samples for the book, rather than dealing with copyright issues with student work. It took a really long time to do all those and write up all the lessons, and then I thought, ‘Well, what am I going to have for sections?’ I feel very strongly about drawing and how important it is. And so part of the book is almost like a mini course on drawing, even for people who are really inexperienced.”
The lessons also tap into her desire to bring people closer to nature.
"We live in this era of plant blindness, where people just aren't terribly aware of plants and their environment, just trees and grass in the suburbs here and there. They're so fascinating and beautiful, and have such interesting shapes and colours," she said.