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NYSS requires all persons entering the building (Gallery visitors are exempt) to complete the daily sign-in form: CLICK HERE
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Student Perspective: Hong Yang on the Painting Marathon at Old Westbury Gardens

This past summer I had the tremendous opportunity to receive a scholarship to attend the NYSS Painting Marathon at Old Westbury Gardens. This experience was transformative and surpassed all my expectations. It left me with a newfound sense of creative freedom and a wealth of ideas to explore in my studio.


The marathon was held at the stunning Old Westbury Gardens on Long Island, providing us with many motifs to paint. Commuting to and exploring the garden required physical effort, but the rewards were worth it. Each morning, our instructor Graham Nickson inspired us with his passion for painting. Before sending us off to paint, he would ask us, “What colors moved you during your morning commute?” He challenged us to express ourselves through color, even asking us to reverse color temperatures in our work. The results were surprising and invigorating.

One particularly memorable task was the 180-degree painting exercise. We were instructed to choose a subject in the garden, paint it, and then turn around to paint the scene behind us with honesty. My painting from this exercise ended up being one of my most ambitious works. During this painting session, a sudden summer storm reminded us of the unpredictable nature of outdoor painting.

The marathon provided me with new ideas to approach my future work. I learned how to harness the power of color temperature and understand the interaction between warm and cool colors. Although I had known about this concept intellectually, during the marathon, I truly felt and saw how colors interact on the canvas. One exercise that helped me understand this was painting two canvases simultaneously. One canvas in warm light and cool shadow when the sun came out and switched to the other in cool light and warm shadow when the sun was blocked by clouds.

I owe a great deal of thanks to instructors Graham Nickson and Sam Levy as well as teaching assistants Erica Newton and Jack Albrittan. Their guidance and logistical support were instrumental to the marathon’s success. The collective dedication of all the students made the experience fulfilling. As one fellow participant noted, we were so absorbed in our work that time seemed to fly by in the “Gamsol Heaven.”

Snapshots From NYSS

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