Gillespie Visits Elementary Art Classes

The following information was published in the Effingham Daily News on Monday, January 21, 2013 and the Newton Press Mentor on Thursday, January 24, 2013

"Elementary Art Classes Enjoy Visit from Gillespie. Gillespie chose 4 students as models while she demonstrated the correct proportions for facial features."

- Vanetta King, Newton Press Mentor

"Newton students see artist at work. Sarah Gillespie, a member of the Effingham Art Guild and a graduate student at SIUE spoke to about 100 fifth- and sixth-grade students about drawing portraits, translating the world into art and growing from mistakes."

- Jackson Adams, Effingham Daily News

"Creating art requires detaching oneself from any preconceived notion about what something looks like," commented Sarah Gillespie during a presentation for fifth and sixth graders. Gillespie, a graduate student in the MFA program at SIUE, spoke to students in her hometown of Newton on January 18th, at the request of Karan Buettemeyer, art teacher at Jasper County Elementary School. While teaching the kids a few tricks of the trade, Gillespie added, "The artist must really look and observe with much focus to paint realistically, but keep in mind, that artists also have the license to produce art that primarily elicits feelings and emotions."

Gillespie showed a brief slide show of some of her art while explaining that producing art is work just like a job. "I get up in the morning and go to work and go back home in the evening." Gillespie spoke to the students about the symmetry of the face. "Let's start with an oval. The eyes should be drawn halfway between the top and the bottom of the oval." Gillespie worked quickly applying charcoal lines to paper, providing linear guidelines as to where the eyes, nose, mouth and ears should be drawn, and thus created a gesture drawing, while encouraging the students to draw as well.

When the Gillespie's quick rendition met with approval from the children, Gillespie smiled, held up her hands to show, and commented about always getting dirty from the charcoal. When the bell rang, lots of little smudged fingers proudly brought drawings forward for Gillespie to see.

As a multifaceted artist, Gillespie has received recognition for both her representational art works and her abstract works. Gillespie tells of her inspiration coming from nature and from her background in a rural setting where good land stewardship was a significant everyday event while she was growing up. In January and February, several of Gillespie's artworks are being featured in Awards of Excellence 2013, a special exhibition highlighting the works of five artists, being held at the Jacoby Arts Center in Alton, Illinois. Her work titled Spring Vibrations, a digital art piece, is being shown in Photo Op at the St. Louis Artists' Guild in Clayton, Missouri, from January 18th to March 17th. During the 2013 Annual Graduate Exhibition now at SIUE's Morris University Center, Gillespie's artworks won the Valerie Reynolds-Smith Award in Painting and the Barbara Dyck Award in Textiles.

In addition to donating her time as guest educator on Friday, Gillespie has repeatedly given presentations and provided art as a volunteer for Ballard Nature Center in Altamont, IL, and is serving as president of Painting and Drawing Association at SIUE.