Plein Air Class article

Art Gym Gives Students a Drawing and Painting Workout

Virginian Pilot, Sept. 1, 2011

By Jane Bloodworth Rowe


Rural Virginia Beach can be a pleasant place on a summer morning, but for art students, trying to capture the greens of the trees and the reds of the barns can be tough.

That’s why Maggie Kerrigan brings her art students outdoors to draw. Their challenge, she said, is to focus on one object and draw it with accuracy.

“I try to get them to draw exactly what they see,” Kerrigan said.

On a recent morning, the students were focusing on the rustic sights visible from the shady Pungo yard of John Burrows. The class, about 10 adults and children, was the Virginia Beach Art Gym, a summer program designed to hone the drawing and painting skills of students of all ages.

About 40 students have participated in the classes, which were available on a walk-on basis, Kerrigan said. Some were as young as 5. They have painted at area parks as well as the Flame of Hope Memorial, a tribute to Vietnam prisoners of war on Oceana Boulevard.

“The focus was on the outdoors and on perspective and size, whether it’s farm buildings or birdhouses,” Kerrigan said.

“Painting outdoors can be harder,” said Teresa Weissman, a Holland Pines resident, “but the way she teaches, you paint from your own perspective.”

Weissman took classes with her 10-year-old daughter, Macayla, who agreed they were challenging but fun. “This was my mom’s idea, but I enjoyed it,” said Macayla, a rising fifth-grader at Christopher Farms Elementary. “I love painting.”

Kerrigan, who prefers working in watercolors or acrylics, said she is largely self-taught, but she did take noncredit classes as an adult. She hopes one day to have a studio that would be open to students on a membership basis.

She named her summer program the Art Gym because, “I want the students to flex their creative muscles.”

The cost is $250, which includes supplies.

Artwork from the summer program will be displayed at Menchie’s Frozen Yogurt, 2201 Upton Drive, Suite 904, from Friday to Sept. 15.

Jane Bloodworth Rowe,, 268-2630

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