This year, 2018 marks 32 years teaching art!

Kerry’s Philosophy on Teaching Art

Her philosophy includes the following. 

  • The practice of art teaches vital skills of observation and creation, two necessary skills for problem solving in everyday living.
  • The practice of art, which is mostly objective (visual, hands-on and interactive) in nature, balances the mostly subjective nature (using mind and memory) of typical education today.
  • The practice of art is therapeutic.
  • Each person has innate artistic abilities. Understanding what those innate abilities are, what creates obstacles to manifesting them and practicing those abilities creates artistic skills and a feeling of well-being.
Kerry Van Dyke

History

I was born and raised in Sacramento and my parents were my role models.

My father was an architect, artisan, hobbyist and loved the outdoors. When I was four and in his spare time he built a full-size speed boat and cabin cruiser out of wood in our backyard for our family. He also built four other cabin cruisers on commission. One of his life-long hobbies was constructing model airplanes from scratch. He was a hunter, angler (stream), trail rider (he built his own Tote-Goat, which was an American made trail bike), panned and dredged for gold and learned to fly a glider.

My mother was a gifted pianist and avid reader. Her piano teacher encouraged her to become a professional. Several years later in 1940 however, she was married and instead became a wonderful mother, choosing to stay home with her children. Fortunately, for us, we grew up listening to all the classics, like Beethoven and Chopin that she played for us. She also dabbled in oils when we were on our yearly camping trips.

I feel blessed that both my parents many talents influenced and shaped my life. My father was adventurous, project oriented (he completed virtually everything he started) and was always creating something. My mother was loving, a wonderful soulful pianist and a generous, supportive friend to everyone.

When I was very little, around the age of four or five in the late 1950’s, I started drawing. One day my mother bought me a how-to draw animal book when I was six. I carefully followed the directions of creating the ovals and other shapes and then erased the unwanted parts as they suggested to finish the drawing of a dog. Afterwards, I thought it was silly to have to make shapes that were not there and then erase unnecessary lines or curves. Why don’t I just draw what I see? I then finished all the animals by just copying the final images in the book. Later, at the age of nine, I was very pleased when I was drew an exact copy of a stylized dear and owl image from a book. I’ve always loved being artistic!

My mother let me use her oil painting kit to paint my first picture when I was thirteen. I chose the cover of one of her mystery novels that she was reading at the time. It happened to be a hand protruding up out of a swamp. Mixing colors was always a fulfilling challenge and came to me naturally.

I continued my art education though high school and received a degree of Fine Art and Graphic Art at Sacramento City College. After which, I worked, married and had two beautiful daughters. When they were little, just four and seven in 1986, I wanted to stay home with them rather than go away to work. My friend who was a pianist and piano teacher suggested I teach art and I could start by teaching out of her home as she did her piano students.

Not long after, I decided to use my father’s workshop to teach my art classes where my mother still resided. (Unfortunately, he had passed away after open-heart surgery when he was only fifty-nine.) Four years later, I moved in with my mother and my classes continued to grow.

Along the way, I discovered another gift, being a visionary and seer. With this unique gift, I have been able to empower countless people and help them gain new perspectives. 

My mother Yvonne passed away peacefully at home with me by her side in June 1997, two weeks prior to her 97th birthday. I was honored to be her caregiver for many years.

She was a great inspiration to me and many of my students. A requirement after each painting they completed was to go in our home and show my mother. She would always have very insightful complements as to what she loved most about their art. We all miss her and her warm and welcoming smile.

The Dove
Brings Tears To My Eyes
Brings Tears To My Eyes
Koi

Over the years, Kerry’s Art classes have been featured on several local news broadcasts and in the Sacramento Bee.

An article in “Inside East Sacramento” said, “It is a classic summer rite of passage for East Sac youngsters: taking Kerry Van Dyke’s oil-painting class in the Rose Garden at McKinley Park.” June 2001 issue, pg. 15, “Teaching Kids to Paint”.

Reprinted from Inside East Sacramento, June 2001
Teaching Kids to Paint

KERRY VAN DYKE
PAINTING IN THE PARK
By Marybeth Bizjak

It is a classic summer rite of passage for East Sac youngsters: taking Kerry Van Dyke’s oil-pointing class in the Rose Garden at McKinley Park.

Since she began holding the classes 12 years ago, Van Dyke has introduced close to 1,000 local children to landscape oil painting. The East Sac resident teaches the skills and techniques to create colorful, impressionistic paintings in oils.

She takes a step-by-step approach, guiding her students through the painting process from holding a brush to putting the finishing touches on the canvas. At the end, each student goes home with a finished painting. “In school, unfortunately, art has been left up to kids,” she says. “The attitude is: Stick something in their hands and maybe they’ll create something.”

Students don’t need special skills or artistic talent to take her class, says Van Dyke. “Everybody can learn,” she says. “Painting is like reading: It’s a skill. It comes more naturally to some than others, but anyone can do it.”

Van Dyke began teaching realistic drawing classes in a friend’s home in 1986. When two of her students wanted to learn to paint, she took them to the Rose Garden. They had so much fun that she decided to expand the class.

Now, Van Dyke teaches 14 summer art classes. In addition to the McKinley Park series, she teaches oil painting at William Land Park Pond and on the Miller Park riverbank and sketching at the Sacramento Zoo.

The weeklong McKinley Park class meets for two hours each day. On the first day, Van Dyke sits the students on the grass outside the Rose Garden and teaches them how to choose a scene using a viewfinder. Then, they cover their canvas with a thin wash of paint so no white will show when the painting is done. “I call it Âputting on the underwear,'” she laughs. Next, they outline their scene on the canvas with thick brush. Van Dyke tells them not to worry about the details but just plot the landmarks—trees, bushes, and benches—for later painting. Then, Van Dyke shows them how to wield the brush, dabbing and dotting in an impressionist style to fill in their picture. On the final day, they get to do the fun stuff: adding in the colorful flowers.

Over the course of the week, the students transform empty canvases into beautiful works of art. “It doesn’t start out looking so good, buy by the end it’s great,” says Van Dyke. “They learn that some things take a while. Painting is a process.”

Although the students all paint the same landscape, each piece is individual and unique. Go into any East Sac home with children and you’re likely to find a Rose Garden Oil painting done under Van Dyke’s tutelage. One local resident whose children took the class several times has 12 of them hanging in her dining room.

Van Dyke looks forward to teaching this summer’s crop of future artists. “I look at all children as little Monet’s with the potential to do it all,” she explains. “I’m here to show them how.”

For several years this painting was on the cover of their weekly bulletin until the church landscape was remodeled.

I have a few limited edition prints left. Please contact me if you are interested.

Sacred Heart Church

When I was commissioned to paint this, I sat across the street on the first day and sketched in pencil the Church. I then began the trees on the right. When I was finishing the tops of the trees, rays of sunlight radiated out. Perfect, I thought. The second day I began inking the image and the same thing happened. When I got to the top of the trees sunlight radiated out!

After I completed the painting, one of my younger art students asked, “Where are the cars?” I told him I wanted it to be timeless. When his father came to pick him up and he saw the painting, he said, “That’s great you left out the cars.”

Sacred Heart Church
Our Lady of the Assumption