"Space, Air, & Seeing the Masters" by Ryan Kerr

Much of the instruction from artists Jay Noble,  Matthew Lopas, and Tai Laipan has been around ways of conceiving and organizing space. It's making me think of space in an entirely new ways and more importantly making me realize how many different ways there actually are of conceptualizing space. Matthew Lopas’s panosphere painting was challenging but forced me to apprehend space in an encompassing way. Objects in the periphery suddenly became more apparent.

At John Goodrich’s visiting artist lecture, he made a point about the very narrow angle we generally experience the world through and how little we look up at extreme angles.

Objects of focus are often bound to the ground by gravity so it makes sense. I find myself looking up a lot more here, happily fulfilling the cliche of an artist with his or her head in the clouds.

On one late night trip to Walmart not unlike any other taken before, we were picking up some minor art supplies. I found myself struck by the perfectly repeating, receding fluorescent lights hanging from the ceiling when viewed from the front checkout lanes. It gave a measure to the space that was beyond what the maze-like aisles might have you believe.

The drawing instruction has also focused on space. Tai Laipan introduced us to Persian miniatures and their stacked space logic. Overlaps become very important in these contour heavy drawings and figure ground reversal can easily be incorporated because of their graphic nature. There was one minature in particular where the sky was white and one of the figure’s turbans was too. It carried the weight of the sky downward in the picture making the billowing clouds that much more affecting.

Over breakfast one morning with the other intensive program students, David Foster Wallace’s ‘This is Water’ commencement speech came up. After reflecting on it, its making me think about figure ground reversal and that trip to Walmart. So much of the time our perceptions play tricks on us for the sake of convenience. It's so easy to to slip into a narrowed view of the world and get tied up in specifics, to forget the big picture, to walk around with horse blinders on.

Another drawing technique that I was introduced to here is intersection drawing. It consists of drawing little T’s where overlaps occur, areas where things create little pockets of air. It feels really satisfying to record the entirety of a space this way. It becomes about simple relationships and reduces the process to ticking little space making events. In this way the task seems drastically less daunting. It gives permission to get caught up in specifics with the aim being big picture.

Drawing the air in the room is difficult. Seeing the Giacometti show at the Guggenheim during the New York trip made this idea seem worthwhile, but no less difficult. What if the object of focus was the air in the room?  Is it as lonely as Giacometti makes it feel? It sobers you up to the psychological scale of objects for sure. Form is suddenly battling against void, commanding the area it occupies with exactness. The Soutine show in New York also left an impression. He was so focused on the presence of his still life subjects, their forms filled the rectangle with the feeling of wanting to burst past the edges. These two shows were, in this way, polar opposites but seeing them in tandem made a contrast of concepts that heightened my experience of each show.

Alumni Impact Statements from November, 2017

In November of 2017 I asked alumni to write short impact statements to help drum up excitement for an online fundraiser, and have since thought it appropriate to enter them into this student blog page for others to enjoy.  - Jay Noble, Executive and Artistic Director

MGSoA impact statements:

"It is hard to quantify the impact Mount Gretna School of Art has had on my work and my life. I learned more during my two summers there than I did during my entire undergraduate program. The program gave me a chance to learn and grow in a concentrated, uninterrupted way in a supportive artist peer group. The Mount Gretna program enables students to develop their work through a rigorous schedule of classes and visiting critics. I live in Alabama. There are not many artists in town, and having those summers to live and work in a community of other artists has been life changing. The only reason I was able to attend those two summers was because of the generous scholarships I received. Please consider donating to this extraordinary school!"

-Maggie King (attended in 2017 and 2015), https://www.maggiekingart.com/


"It’s amazing to consider how one decision can so significantly affect one’s trajectory. For me, attending Mount Gretna School of Art was one of those decisions.

I spent two summers in Mount Gretna’s six week intensive program, and one summer in the Capstone Seminar Program. Both programs have a rotating lineup of faculty, and critics. Director Jay Noble has worked tirelessly to bring some amazing artists to Gretna. The rigorous curriculum is centered on painting and drawing in the landscape and from the figure. The Capstone program focused on our individual studio practices and work development. We met with critics and faculty each week, which was a helpful precursor to grad school. The gift of time and duration devoted to painting is invaluable. My first year, Martha Armstrong said to me, “you can’t always paint what you see to paint what you see,” emphasizing the intimate connection one can have with the landscape. I’m still engaging and fighting with that dialogue in my work now.

One of the most valuable things about Mt. Gretna is the community of dedicated artists. Students and faculty live in neighboring cottages. We eat dinner together, sit on the porch at night looking through art books, work in the studio together. Eating, sleeping, breathing painting all the time. I have made lifelong friends and connections in Gretna, and for that I’m thankful.

Mt. Gretna is built of students, alumni, community support, faculty, and lots of oil paint; it’s a web of support and love. Through generous donors, I was able to attend Mount Gretna. I encourage you to consider donating to the school to give more hardworking painters the invaluable, formative experience of this program.

Tomorrow, November 17th Mt. Gretna is participating in Lancaster’s Extra Give program, a single day fundraising event for non profits. I can’t think of a program more deserving, and I’m eternally grateful for my time spent there, lessons learned, and friends made."

Elizabeth Flood (attended 2013, 2014 and, 2016) - http://elizabethfloodart.com/home.html


"Mount Gretna School of Art intensive art program is life changing. In 2014 and 2016 I was given the opportunity to attend MGSA in Pennsylvania USA. I was completely immersed in painting landscapes, figure and still life. Being away from distractions while focusing solely on painting and drawing proved an invaluable experience. I gained a deeper understanding of myself as both a person and an artist.

This program allowed me to meet other students and artists from across the country who have taught me to see the world in interesting ways. I cherish the daily interactions and conversations; cooking, eating in the porch with professors and gathering for evening artist talks in the living room. Those were a meaningful experiences that I would have not had in any other context.

MSGA has broaden my horizons, further preparing to follow my path as an artist. Thanks to the hard work of the director Jay Noble and its donors for so generously offering scholarships that allowed me to attend. Please consider continuing donating to this amazing art school so that it keeps allowing other aspiring artists to afford the opportunity that will impact their life."

- Velazquez Patricia


“Mount Gretna School of Art holds my fondest and most exciting memories of painting and fellowship. I remember receiving with tears an email confirmation from Jay regarding my acceptance into the program along with the scholarship sponsored by all the generous donors. In the following six weeks, I was influenced and encouraged by the most dedicated peers and insightful artists that showed me their way of seeing the world. The program provided us opportunities to attend artist lectures, weekly critique by visiting artists, and workshops outside of class time which consisted of painting and drawing everyday. We also spent a good amount of time chatting on the porch, sharing our struggles and joy of art-making with one another; the local community itself was also such a supportive environment that our neighbors were always interested in knowing our works and cheering us on when days were hard. The insurmountable knowledge, inspiration, and upbuilding had become a catalyst for my drive to paint and grow more. I am sincerely grateful for all the faculties and donors who had contributed significantly to make this possible. Therefore I encourage everyone to consider donating to the cause in light of the accomplishments this school has already achieved. Mount Gretna School of Art is where I learned most about art, about painting, and about seeing the world through the lens of an artist.”

 - Misato Pang


"MGSOA made a huge impact on me and I am so happy that I got to be part of the program. My time there was great. Mt.Gretna offered what I was seeking outside of the University environment. It offered a relatable community with other people like myself. The intensive program really helped my skills to develop and move forward. It’s the kind of place where young artists can come to grow and flourish. It really widens my horizons in terms of knowledge and the amazing professors/students I got to meet during my time there.My time there would not have been possible without the generosity of donors. I can’t stress enough how great the program is!"

-Miguel Cruz-Cuevas, (2017)


"I was given the opportunity to spend the summer of 2016 at the Mount Gretna School of Art in Mount Gretna, Pennsylvania. As fate would have it, it happened to be the summer before I started an MFA program in painting. During that six weeks I was able to meet, spend time with, and learn from highly esteemed painters/professors from all over the United States. A typical day begins around 9 am with painting, stopping for lunch, drawing follows lunch and lasts until dinner; it is this type of rigor that helped to set the tone for a good studio practice in graduate school. In the middle of the week visiting artists meet individually with students and provide feedback on work, in addition to that, special topics are provided in the format of a workshop on Saturdays, artist talks are given on Mondays and Wednesdays, trips are taken to visit museums and artist studios... I could go on. Jay Noble has done an amazing job creating this program and continues to do so. 
Working and living with other like minded people for six weeks resulted in memorable shared experiences and what I know will be lifelong friendships. Living in Oklahoma can feel isolating, the local art community isn't very big. Thanks to the Mount Gretna School of Art I am now a part of a much larger community of artists. 
This program was absolutely one of the best experiences of my life and would not have been possible for me without the generosity of its donors. I encourage everyone to consider donating to this amazing program."

- Devin Howell


"I attended the MGSoA program for the first time this past summer, and found it to be an amazing opportunity for artistic development. The curriculum was rigorous and challenging and invigorating to a young painter, our instructors were thoughtful and inspiring, and my fellow students were driven and motivating! In addition to the sheer joy of painting en plein air that the program affords its participants, the director and organizers work tirelessly to ensure that every student can afford to attend, by offering incredibly generous financial aid and many work/study opportunities. Without their efforts, and without the donors who continue to support the students year after year, this program wouldn't be the weird and wonderful experience that it has become in the 5 or so years of its lifetime. I look forward to watching it continue to grow and evolve, and I hope to come back again soon!"

Lucy Copper,  summer 2017


"Mgsoa is a rare program. The setting, community and calibre of education converge to create a launching pad for students who are now some of the best painters I know. I think the quality of work produced by alumni speaks volumes, but the best qualities of the program have to be witnessed first hand. Since attending the program for its inaugural and a few subsequent years I’ve had time to reflect on my experience. The hallmarks of my experience are the palpable enthusiasm for big painting ideas, pushing yourself and your work as hard as you can for six weeks straight, and being supported and driven by phenomenal teachers. You would be hard pressed to find the same amount of sheer passion and excitement for painting elsewhere. Every time I paint I am driven by ideas and lessons learned during my time with the program. I think it was an irreplaceable experience for myself, and for many other students as well. I hope you’ll consider donating to this program so it can continue to grow and benefit students' growth as painters."

- Benjamin Lowery


“One of the most influential times as an artist has been the summer I spent in Pennsylvania at the Mount Gretna School of Art.

This six-week program consisted of intensive painting and drawing courses throughout the morning and into the evening, working in front of a rhythmical landscape. Evenings at Mt. Gretna were a time for fellow painters to come together. A time to cook, to eat, to learn, and to live among a community of like-minded individuals. Trips to museums I never dreamed of stepping into - MoMa, the Met, Met Breuer, Rodin, the Barnes Foundation, the PMA - allowed me to dive deeper into the world of the arts, understanding my footprint in this lineage of time. Artists I never thought to meet and learn from were graciously brought to us through their relationship with Mt. Gretna’s director, Jay Noble. The relationships i built in those cottages have had a lasting impact on my understanding of the arts.

I would not be where I am today as an artist, student, and human being - if I had not been granted the opportunity to attend the Mount Gretna School of Art. This opportunity was only afforded to me through generous donations provided to this school.”

- Annabelle Schafer, annabelleschafer.weebly.com


"At that time when I just graduated from college without knowing what to do or even where to go,I was overwhelmed by the fact that I decided to drive all the way from OH to a strange place and started my new life.The first summer at MGSoA, however, gave me so much feelings of being at home. I met the most amazing peers and teachers that I am still connected with very often. I made my mind to be a painter while I was at MGSoA for the first time, and that continues my pursue to study in graduate school. Please make any possible donation to the program, because I know it will truly change some people's life."

- Mona Shen, http://monashen.org/


"In 2014 & 2017 I was given the incredible opportunities to participate in the Mount Gretna School of Art Intensive Summer Program. Each year I was able to engage in a community of artist students and teachers in a rigorous practice that has influenced and changed my studio practice on my journey and growth as an artist. It introduced me to the landscape and ever since I've been in a relationship in trying to understand shapes and forms in color and value. It's left an impression on me that influences the way I think about and see the world around me. I hope to be as much a part of this amazing school as it continues to flourish and see it grow in the years to come for future students. I was able to participate in this wonderful program by the help of exceptional donors and generous scholarships. I encourage you to contribute to it's growth as well to help it foster new students."

- Marisa Smith


"It’s hard to quantify the impact Mount Gretna School of Art has had on my life as a painter. I attended in the summer of 2015, three years after my graduation from college and immediately preceding my master’s program. Although a dedicated painter from a young age and a student of art in college, I struggled prior to attending MGSoA, finding minimal time to paint after college and largely clueless of how to take charge of my own artistic development. MGSoA taught me how to be the agent of my continued growth as an artist—how to paint now, without assignments, rubrics, or rules to follow. Surrounded by 19 other dedicated and talented students, I formed invaluable friendships and saw in my peers a committed work ethic I strove to emulate. Thank you Jay Noble for throwing yourself into the creation and continued growth of MGSoA. The invaluable instruction, camaraderie with other young dedicated artists, and intensity of focus proved pivotal in my continued development as a painter. Thank you Brian Rego, Catherine Drabkin, Stephanie Pierce, and Mark Lewis for giving of yourself and inviting your students to see, search, and paint with greater gusto and maturity. I am indebted to each of you and grateful for the life altering 6-weeks I spent studying at Mount Gretna School of Art.

So readers, you have a chance to participate in the flourishing of students like me by donating to Mount Gretna School of Art...

Do it! "

- Kristen Peyton


"I am one of many young artists who can attest to the transformative impact that Mount Gretna School of Art has had on influencing an enriching, holistic art education that leads to a professional approach to art making and personal growth. For the past two summers, I have been fortunate to attend MGSoA to study plein aire painting and figure drawing in addition to many workshops offered throughout the six week intensive program. Each year, MGSoA brings together a dynamic group of professors, critics and lecturers, comprised of working artists from all over the the country, to work closely with students to challenge and encourage students to be deeply committed to an investigative inquiry to the painting process and analyzation of perception. The opportunity to concentrate on painting and drawing for six weeks, all day and every day, allowed me to be immersed in an environment that continually poses questions and ideas to consider in my paintings; it gave me the much needed time to develop my ideas. Working in nature, for me, is entirely different from working in a classroom. There is a rhythm and vitality that runs through nature that brings life and poetry to a work of art. I am always more inspired by the end of the program which leads to new ideas when I return home. Attending MGSoA helped me tremendously to see new possibilities in art and life, enhanced my appreciation for art, and community involvement.

I would like to greatly encourage people to be a part of this growing school by donating this coming Friday, November 17th, to MGSoA. MGSoA is extremely invested in making high-quality education accessible to deserving students. I would never have had the ability to attend such an amazing program if it wasn't for the generosity of donors. MGSoA values every donation and works diligently to have funds directly impact students’ lives. I believe this school goes beyond benefiting students; it enriches the entire community. I have experienced at Mount Gretna how art is a love that nourishes and grows deeper in a supportive community, and it is a joy that increases when shared with others."

Abigail Dudley


"It is truly amazing to watch this program grow over the last 5 summers and I feel so honored to have been a part of it every year. Donations and scholarships were the only reason I had the opportunity to attend in 2013 and I don't know what I would have done without it. I owe so much to this program as a person and as a painter and I think there are many alumni that can say the same. Please consider donating whatever you can! It really can make such a huge difference."

-Sarah D'Ambrosio


"Attending the Mount Gretna intensive program was the most life-changing experience I've had during my artistic and educational career. Being a student at a small liberal arts college, I always assumed I would "do painting on the side", but this program completely changed that for me and opened my eyes to the opportunities that are available to me in the art world. My skills improved vastly over the six week period and the lessons I learned still echo strongly in my current practice. Because of the immersive nature of the program, I was learning in and out of the studio; everyone was constantly painting, talking about painting, or looking at paintings. My artistic growth was more in those six weeks that during my first year of university.

I cannot express enough how important Mount Gretna has been to me, and my experience would not have been possible without donor funding. Please consider donating to this exceptional school so other students can have an experience like mine."

Meera Chauhan


I made this painting "Searching for the Sky" summer of 2016 as a seminar student at Mount Gretna School of Art. At the time I had just moved to Philadelphia and felt overwhelmed in a big city on a busy street with no studio! It was a true gift to spend four weeks in a cottage in the woods, surrounded by the inspiring landscape and supportive artists. I engaged in meaningful conversations with new and old friends about our work, and got the time and space I desired to fall into a rhythm of painting a section of the woods during the day and working from memory in my studio space at night.
I was able to attend the program with financial aid I received through the program from its donors, and I am extremely grateful for this. Please consider supporting MGSoA so that this program can remain accessible to art students who need and deserve it!

-Quinn McNicholhttp://quinnmcnichol.com/home.html


"I spent the two most memorable summers of my college experience in Mt. Gretna, Pennsylvania, at the Mount Gretna School of Art.
I lived in a small cottage rented by the school the first summer, in a room that had lots of framed portraits of teddy bears, and a closet full of Christmas decorations. 7 other painters shared the house with me, and a few more in neighboring cottages down the road. We'd have drawing and painting classes during the day, and paint and talk into the night. This was the happiest part of my college experience, and the first time I felt such a feeling of community among my peers.

My paintings changed dramatically after this first summer.
I discovered a myriad of visual languages students had brought from their own educations and upbringings and visual experiences, and these became options for my own work. I often felt that I was learning as much from my peers as I was from the visiting artists the director Jay Noble had brought to the program, and the friends I made there continue to be an important part of my life and my work.

Among the merits of the school was the gift of time - the opportunity, at least for a short while, to devote the entirety of my time to art-making in an environment unmoderated by objective academic standards, or commodified value systems.

I was only able to attend Mt. Gretna through the generosity of its donors. I encourage you to consider donating to Mt. Gretna to continue to make the program accessible and transformative to the most deserving students."

-Jason Lipow


"Mount Gretna School of Art 2016 was one of the most influential periods in my life as far as artistic growth and development. Not only did it teach me to see light and tone in a whole new way, but it taught me the vocabulary to communicate with other artists. I’ve never been anywhere else where a group of people can happily talk about the benefits of oil mediums for an entire dinner.

There were challenging moments where I wondered what I was even doing in the program, but the amazing teachers that are brought in know how to turn you around to inspire, and channel frustration.

It is thanks to this program that I have the confidence in my ability to paint from life. I now do live wedding paintings, plein air shows, and portraits from life. I know at any time how to set up and capture the world in front of me."

I will never forget my time there and I hope the program will continue on to inspire and educate future students.

Please donate!

-Kara Oldenburg-Gonzales


With only about a day or so until the Extraordinary give I'd just like to say that 5 summers ago I had the opportunity to be a part of the MGSoA. Fresh out of undergrad I was an awkward, timid, anxious 23 year old who had never left NY on my own. I had no idea what I was getting into when I arrived that summer and honestly I was terrified. I quickly learned what an unique and incredible opportunity it was to be surrounded by a community of painters who cared about painting as much I did and to work with some truly wonderful people. This program gave me the ability to work, form meaningful relationships with other artists, gave me space, 
, the confidence and the time to become a better painter. I am so grateful to have been a part of this program and quite honestly I don't think it is possible to be able to give back as much as it has given me. I think it has really had a personal affect on me and I would not be the person I am without and especially Jay Noble's support. Jay trusted me with a lot since the very first day I met him and taught me more than he might ever know. I am so grateful for his support, trust and confidence in my abilities over the last few years. The bottom line is this: I think this program can do a lot of good for a lot young artists out there and many of them can not afford to go to good art schools and residencies. If you can support this program in some way you would be supporting generations of artists for years to come who are lucky enough to be at MGSoA. 

Sarah D'Ambrosio



Work and sense of family. by Emily Arndt (class of 2015)

Work and sense of family.  by Emily Arndt (class of 2015)

...Besides sharing different art techniques throughout our daily critiques, these artists have shared interesting things that have happened during their painting sessions throughout the day to more personal things such as unforgettable stories that have made me laugh and cry. I feel strongly that these people are more than just art students they are a small group of people I can call family.

Read More

That Particular Green. by Elizabeth Flood (class of 2014)


Pablo Picasso once said, “They’ll sell you thousands of greens.  Veronese green and emerald green and cadmium green and any sort of green you like, but that particular green, never.”  I have developed a love hate relationship with the color green during my time at Mount Gretna—constantly grasping for that particular green in the particular light of a particular instant in time.  For the first week or two that I was here, I was so caught up in mixing exactly the green that I saw, but it became clear to me very quickly that it is nearly impossible to paint exactly what you see  As I tried to grapple with creating space and variety among a dense patch of trees, our first painting instructor Martha Armstrong told me something that I will never forget.  To paraphrase, she said that you can’t always paint exactly what you see in order to paint what you see.  The more I’ve painted here, the more Martha’s words of wisdom have really sunk in.  Upon a first glance into the woods, or across a field, everything looks green, but as artists, we develop a unique language of line, color and value that expresses the world however we see and feel it.  Our current painting instructor Xico Greenwald constantly encourages us to paint in a way that feels authentic.  Like Martha’s advice, I’ll certainly keep Xico’s guidance in the back of my mind while painting. 


            On July 4th, we had a show displaying the work we’ve made throughout the summer.  When I walked around to look at everyone’s work it dawned on me: not one of these paintings has the exact same green in it. Every one of us has learned to embrace our own artistic language through painting, whether its expressive and chaotic marks or more structured blocks of color, there is no one particular way to paint, no predetermined shade of green.  Picasso’s “particular green” is different in every one of our paintings, and that to me is just awesome.  I’ve learned so much here, and made so many fantastic friends.  Although I’m sad that my time at MGSoA is coming to a close, I’m so excited to take everything I’ve learned here, continue to develop my own artistic voice, and carry on my wrestling match with the color green wherever I end up. 


Source: https://jay-noble-x7na.squarespace.com/con...