Like public school teachers who teach core classes, public school art teachers have many extra duties, too. With so many challenges and duties throughout the year, it is not uncommon for an art teacher to arrive back at home around 7 p.m. after a long day of teaching.
Although the job is rigorous, many art teachers still find time to practice their craft. In the classroom, they are sharing the information relevant to who they are as an artist. They encourage the creative impulse and help students develop a multicultural aesthetic understanding, learn about the arts in history, and discover the joy of expressing an idea or feeling through the elements of art and design.
In the spirit of celebrating the public-school art teacher/ artist, Gallery 208 will exhibit a body of work by the senior art teacher at Westover High School in Fayetteville in an exhibit titled “Namera Graybeal: The Sounds of Drawing.” The opening and artist’s reception is Tuesday, April 10, from 5:30-7 p.m. and is free to the public.
This is Graybeal’s fourth year teaching in the public-school system after earning a Bachelor of Arts in art education with a concentration in ceramics at Fayetteville State University in 2014.
Graybeal is a full-time teacher. She is married with five children and has five grandchildren. She is an art advocate in the community, has taught ceramic classes for six years in Fayetteville Technical Community College’s continuing education program and has taught during the summer months in the Ellington-White Contemporary Gallery Summer Youth Program. And she still finds time to be a practicing artist. If you ask her how, she will tell you, “I’m an artist that teaches, and I have made a commitment to do something artistic every day.”
Graybeal creates images of nature that show us what we don’t see. She doesn’t focus on creating pictorial space using mathematical or aerial perspective, making the everyday objects in nature more tangible through color, pattern, black and white and the arrangement of forms that spread over the paper’s surface with a joyful intelligence.
In a good drawing, we don’t separate the marking tools from the surface; such is the case in Graybeal’s work. Her forms interact with each other with intent – parts of a greater whole. A greater narrative seems to be always unfolding within the complexity of the marks, colors and patterns.
Graybeal draws with alcohol-based refillable copic pens, using the tip or edge of the pen for line quality. Colors are created with color pencils, ink, watercolors and sometimes a white gel pen. She creates contrast in the works with a variety of pattern and color. Her use of color, like everything on the page, is an intuitive process.
Although Graybeal is an excellent ceramicist and able to create realistic works of art in painting (portraits, etc.), it is through drawing that she has been able to keep her commitment to “doing something artistic every day.” Inspired by her many books on patterns, Graybeal begins a drawing by making a simple pattern. Without thinking about an end-product, she allows automatism – the process of working intuitively – to guide her creation.
So, why patterns? Graybeal commented, “Patterns are very popular right now, but I have always been interested in them and used variations of the pattern in my earlier work – in small amounts. For me, there is a consistency in the repetitive process, the repetition is relaxing compared to my busy life. So, I draw to relax. When I’m drawing, there are sounds as the mark-making material moves across the surface of the paper. Like repetition, the sound is also soothing. You can hear the length of a line as you watch the width or darkness of the line diminish or gain in strength.”
When viewing Graybeal’s imaginative, fanciful and intelligent body of work at Gallery 208, one can readily see how she presents nature as movement and contrast. Variety can be found in the way she combines flat and limited volume, color with black and white, and various thicknesses of line. Pattern is often thought of as movement; but combine that with her placement of objects on the picture plane and the movement she creates results in an implicit or explicit rolling and spinning across the plane.
With so many patterns on the same drawing, how does Graybeal know when to shift or change her patterns? She answered, “It’s simple; I shift or change the pattern when I feel there is enough. It’s always about balance and weight as I move across the surface, so I intuitively sense the appropriate size of a pattern and when it’s time to shift.”
She said, further, “My narrative does emerge from the process of drawing. I find that I predominantly draw nature and water as a subject, although I have started to use some architecture in the newer works. I hope viewers will take time with the work. I feel nature is mysterious, but also very healing. Ultimately, I would like people to leave the exhibit feeling happy and believing they could draw too – and will start to practice!”
Gallery 208 is located at 208 Rowan St., and the public is invited to attend the opening and reception of “Namera Graybeal: The Sounds of Drawing” April 10 from 5:30-7 p.m. Graybeal will briefly discuss her work at 6:15 p.m.
There will be plenty of time to see the exhibit since it will stay up until June 25. Gallery hours are 9 a.m.–5 p.m. Monday through Friday. For more information, call 910-484-6200.