Art at Any Age: Summer Art Workshop at Jack Schuler's Farm

by Janell Cleland

Jack speaks to Scholars about becoming an artist.
Warren and Round Lake Scholars gathered in a circle on the lawn at Jack Schuler’s farm. While eating lunch, they shared with each other memorable sketches from the summer Art Workshop facilitated by Diane Dorigan, retired art teacher from Deerfield High School.

Joseph Tith (Round Lake High School '16) shows Jack his artwork.
Today concluded their time together after two weeks of experimenting with a variety of media. The Botanic Gardens, The Art Institute, and now Mr. Schuler’s farm all provided inspiration as they worked to perfect techniques with expert feedback from Diane. Native plants from a restored prairie, a barn with unique angles and dimension, and Lake Michigan water breaking along the shoreline provided the perfect closure subjects to their summer sketching. 

Heads snapped up from their focused sharing as an approaching car broke the silence. “Who’s that?”  “What if it’s Mr. Schuler?” With a quick wave, the driver continued down the driveway, but minutes later, Mr. Schuler exited his house and walked toward the now-silent circle. What they had hoped aloud would happen during their van rides to the farm was suddenly real. Mr. Schuler was home! With his encouragement, the sharing of the farm sketches resumed. He listened and smiled and encouraged, and finally shared his journey to become an artist. 

One scholar took notes with his drawing pencil in his sketch book as Jack talked about how his observational abilities were enhanced when he began to sketch/paint. He noticed details and color subtleties that had previously evaded him. He shared information about the prairie restoration and the names of the flowers captured in their sketch books. Since his artistic career began at age 65, he encouraged them to continue to learn and to take risks just as he had done when he decided to try something completely new to him.

As the time to leave approached, a freshman scholar shared with a small circle of friends: “I feel so lucky right now that I got to see Mr. Schuler” (Patricia Cupay, WTHS ’17). The smiling faces captured in the group photo clearly illustrate that the feelings of this scholar were shared by all. This unexpected but hoped-for moment will be a day to remember.
Speaking to Jack was an inspiring capstone to the Scholars' two weeks of artistic exploration.
Janell Cleland is the School Director for the Warren Township High School Schuler Scholar Program in Gurnee, Illinois.


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