There is no school trip planned to Italy this year, and a trip to Spain is highly unlikely — but teachers in the Sag Harbor School District are still working hard to get the best education and experience for their students.
Peter Solow, the high school art teacher at Pierson knows a very influential person in his industry — artist Perico Pastor of Barcelona, Spain. Pastor is been staying with Solow for two weeks in his Sag Harbor home and is working with the art students at Pierson who are reaping the benefits of studying alongside this widely-experienced and well-traveled artist.
“I used to live in New York City,” Pastor said on Monday. “I lived there for 12 years, it is like a second home to me.”
Pastor, who brought his wife and son along on this visit, has produced numerous illustrations for the New York Times and now works for a newspaper in Spain.
“I haven’t had any formal training,” Pastor said, “I just look at other people’s work.”
Though he never went to art school nor sat as an art student, Pastor seemed thrilled with the opportunity to teach the kids in Sag Harbor. He has taught in other areas across the globe, including most recently Cairo and Tokyo.
While Pastor is here, Solow is holding workshops after school for up to 15 interested kids, teachers and administrators. At one point, Solow said there were as many as 22 attendees at the workshop.
He said perhaps the best thing the kids will get from Pastor is learning how to take care of art supplies. Pastor teaches the kids that materials are extremely valuable. He explains that even drying the brushes is important in keeping them for a number of years.
Solow explained on Monday that some of the materials the students were using, paid for through the school’s Reutershan Trust, were costly and materials that Solow, himself, has never had the privilege of using before. This includes Japanese brushes, Sumi ink and homemade oriental paper — Pastor’s materials of choice for watercolor painting — his technique of choice.
Pastor asked the kids to be courageous in their work, and told them that art is an eye-opening experience — similar to that of bull fighting. Pastor said his philosophy is about taking care of what’s important and valuable.
“We live in a disposable society,” Solow said on Monday. “He explained that it is important for the kids to realize that everything should not be replaceable.”
Solow said that Pastor’s workshops are also great discipline for the art students.
“This two-and-a-half-hour shot can be exhausting, and requires a tremendous amount of commitment,” says Solow. “But the kids will look back on it and we will still have these brushes from the workshops.”
Pastor told the students to learn to take chances and more importantly, with watercolor, learn to live with the mistakes they make. He also told them to lose pre-conceived notions of what the final product will look like.
“I always try to achieve maximum results with minimum effort,” said Pastor on Monday. “I’m impressed with the students in all levels and how quickly they work. They have had very good training in art and they are very thorough.”
Pastor told the students that less is often more, and that adding more does not necessarily make a better piece of art. Pastor also talked to the students about looking at artwork as symbols. Pastor has created massive pieces of work on paper that can be up to 12-feet long, with a simple message or symbol. His business card reflects this idea – the card is a copy of his six-foot long piece of paper with two eyes featured painted in black.
At the end of the week, when the workshops close, Pastor will have one big piece of work completed with the students that will show a simple symbol.
“This type of art is like putting on a performance,” said Solow.