Phillips at Home: Home for the Holidays

Hello from Donna Jonte, your Phillips at Home host. Thanks for spending time with me and works of art from The Phillips Collection, slowing down to look, think, wonder, and respond creatively. Let’s go home for the holidays with artist Charles Demuth!

Materials: coloring supplies (markers, color pencils, crayons), scissors, glue, printer

Charles Demuth, Red Chimneys, 1918, Watercolor and graphite pencil on medium-weight, medium-textured, off-white, wove paper, 10 1/8 x 14 in., The Phillips Collection, Acquired 1925


Look carefully at this work of art by Charles Demuth. What do you notice? Do you see straight lines? Curved lines? What shapes do you see? What colors do you see? Why might Demuth have focused on the roofs of the houses?

Use a pencil or crayon (and your imagination) to extend this picture using the template and draw a house that you want to live in.  What will your house look like? Will your house look like something in your dreams? Will you use straight or wavy lines? What shapes might your doors and windows be? What might you add to the roof, the house, and the yard?

When you have finished drawing your house, add yourself to the picture. Where will you be?


Lancaster, Pennsylvania, 1899, photograph by Ferdinand Demuth

Charles Demuth (American, 1883-1935) was born in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. When he was not traveling to New York City; Provincetown, Massachusetts; or Paris, he lived in his family home, which is now The Demuth Museum. Young Charles was inspired by the view from his windows. He liked the geometric shapes in the city’s skyline, especially the church steeples. So did his father, Ferdinand Demuth, an amateur photographer. Here is one of his father’s photos showing Lancaster’s architecture in 1899.

Duncan Phillips included Demuth’s work in his 1926 Exhibition of Paintings by Nine American Artists, which was an effort to make Washington aware of progressive trends in American art. The exhibition intrigued local critics. It included many American artists never before shown in the city who painted in a cubist-influenced style “based on systematized, arbitrary arrangement” of forms. In his catalogue essay, Phillips praised Demuth’s “austerity of ruled line combined with an enchanting quality of color,” and in his collection catalogue of the same year commented on Demuth’s “genius for design and consummate taste and tact.”


Charles Demuth’s painting inspired us to sketch a 2-dimensional (flat) house. Now let’s create a 3-dimensional (sculptural) paper house using a template from the Design Museum, the National Building Museum, of the National Museum of Women in the Arts.

Look at your house template. Imagine how your house will look when it is put together. Which part will be the front of the house and which will be the back? How will the tabs help hold the house together?

We will decorate the house before we cut and fold the template into a 3-dimensional form. Keeping the template flat, decorate your house. Use your colored pencils and crayons to add color and details.

Construct your house following the instructions. Then add embellishments like pom-poms, stickers, and tape. What else might you add to your house? Explore your own home for more decorations that will make your house look festive!

Use a variety of the templates to make a whole village!

Happy holidays from The Phillips Collection!

Phillips at Home: Crafting Community Stories

Hello from Donna Jonte, your Phillips at Home host. Thanks for spending time with me and works of art from The Phillips Collection, slowing down to look, think, wonder, and respond creatively.

We have practiced a thinking routine called See-Think-Wonder with a still life, a landscape, and a cityscape. Now, using the same mindful-looking technique, let’s explore stories in Allan Rohan Crite’s Parade on Hammond Street and Luca Buvoli’s Picture: Present.

Materials Needed:

Time: 30-45 minutes

Ages: 4+

Allan Rohan Crite, Parade on Hammond Street, 1935, Oil on canvas board, 18 x 24 in., The Phillips Collection, Acquired 1942

Ready to explore? I wonder what the parade is celebrating, don’t you?

(STEP 1) Observe

Find a comfortable place to sit where you and your family members can see Crite’s painting on the screen. Take a deep breath in and exhale slowly.

With your family, look carefully at the image for at least 30 seconds. Let your eyes travel slowly from side to side, top to bottom. Notice what is in the background, middle-ground, and foreground. Notice what takes up the most space in the composition. Notice if there is empty space. Notice the colors, shapes, and lines.

What did you see? Where did your eye go first? Next? How does the artist lead you through the painting? What colors stand out to you? Lines? Shapes?

What do you think about what you see?

What is happening in the street? What is happening on the sidewalk? What is happening in the windows of the red brick row houses? Where is the sky?

What do you notice about the people in the neighborhood? Does one person especially interest you?

Do you notice the child who is about to step into the street? How does the artist make sure that we can see the children clearly? Why might he have done that?

What might the weather be like?

What is the mood of this painting? What do you see that makes you say that?

How does the painting make you feel?

Does this painting remind you of a place that you have visited with your family?

What do you wonder about this place, the artist, and his process?

What might the marching band’s music sound like? It makes me think of the Treme Bass Band from New Orleans. Do you think it matches the mood in this painting?

Thank you for sharing your observations and ideas about Parade on Hammond Street with your family.

(STEP 2) Get to know the artist

Allan Rohan Crite (born North Plainfield, NY, 1910; died Boston, Massachusetts, 2007) loved this neighborhood in Boston called Roxbury, where he lived most of his 97 years, carrying his sketchbook everywhere. Describing himself as “an artist-reporter, recording what I saw, “ he stated: “I made these drawings . . . simply to show Black people as . . . human beings that had their loves and their distresses, their joys and happiness and sorrows—just plain, ordinary people. So I made all these different street scenes with the horse carts, the vegetable man, the fish man; or people gossiping, children playing in the streets or the playground—all of these sort of homely things.” (Read his full Smithsonian Archives of American Art oral history interview)

In 1998, in an interview with the Harvard Extension School Alumni Bulletin, he said: “I am a storyteller of the drama of man. This is my small contribution—to tell the African American experience—in a local sense, of the neighborhood, and, in a larger sense, of its part in the total human experience.”

Crite was not only a painter, draftsman, and printmaker, but also an author, librarian, and publisher. He had a day job, too! For 30 years he worked as an illustrator for the Boston Naval Shipyard. Filled with curiosity, he never stopped learning. At an early age his mother encouraged him to draw and paint, and he took art classes at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Massachusetts School of Art, and Boston University. Later he focused on history and the natural sciences, earning a Bachelor of Arts from Harvard University and an honorary doctorate from Suffolk University in Boston. That is a lot of education! Does Allan Rohan Crite inspire you to become an “artist-reporter”?

(STEP 3) Extend the story

Are you ready to extend the story we found in Parade on Hammond Street? But first, let’s look at a more fantastical story by another artist—Luca Buvoli.

New York-based artist Luca Buvoli (born Brescia, Italy, 1963) invented a story based on artwork in The Phillips Collection, just like we are doing now. When Buvoli was a child he loved to read comic books and create his own. Guess what? As an adult he still does! He made a series of artworks as part of the Phillipss Digital Intersections contemporary art projects. Picture: Present is the most recent episode from the artist’s Astrodoubt and The Quarantine Chronicles series that features tragicomic visual narratives commenting on the covid-19 health and social crisis. The 12 scenes, which were unveiled on the Phillips’s website from July 20–August 7, will be available on the website through December 1, 2020.

Like Crite, Buvoli is trying to capture the human experience in his illustrations:

Buvoli said: “Through Astrodoubt, and particularly in this opportunity to interact with the Phillips’s collection, I have enjoyed the pleasure of experimenting and playing with time travel, compositions, words and images, and stream of consciousness. I developed these stories to be used as a tool of amusement, reflection, and relief during the pandemic.” Where else do you think Astrodoubt has traveled?

Thinking about Picture: Present, let’s turn back to Parade on Hammond Street. If you stepped into the picture:

  1. Who will you be? A member of the marching band? The child in the middle of the sidewalk, wanting to step into the street to join the marching band? A person in a window looking down at the parade? Maybe you are not a person but a bird perched on a roof or flying in the blue triangle of sky! A musical instrument, perhaps the glockenspiel? One of the row houses that has sheltered many families?
  2. What do you think happened just before this scene?
  3. What might happen next, when the parade moves down the street? As a character in the story, what will you do next?

Your story can be funny, silly, happy, sad, dreamy, realistic, or fantastical—whatever you wish! You are the storyteller.

STEP 4) Create an accordion book

Let’s fold one piece of paper into an accordion book for your story. Here are instructions from the National Museum of Women in the Arts, a museum in DC that has an impressive collection of artist’s books in its library. An accordion book opens and closes like the musical instrument. Do you think that is a good choice for a book about a marching band in a parade?

When you finish your story, don’t forget to write the title and the author’s name (that’s you!) on the cover.

By Carina, age 8, in response to Parade on Hammond Street

By Carina Araujo, age 8, Music and Dance, two-sided accordion book in response to Parade on Hammond Street. Carina’s story shows that “there is music and dance everywhere.”

Thank you for celebrating community and exploring Allan Rohan Crite’s Parade on Hammond Street. Please share your books with us! Email photos to:


Phillips at Home: Jump In!

Hello from Donna Jonte, your Phillips at Home host. Thanks for spending time with me and works of art from The Phillips Collection, slowing down to look, think, wonder, and respond creatively.

Today we will explore Georgia O’Keeffe’s landscape Red Hills, Lake George. Then we will create a collage.  

Materials Needed: Cardstock or cardboard for a background, scrap paper, construction paper, foil, found objects for collage, scissors, glue

Time: 30-45 minutes

Ages: 4 +

Georgia O’Keeffe, Red Hills, Lake George, 1927, Oil on canvas, 27 in x 32 in., The Phillips Collection, Acquired 1945

You can use the See-Think-Wonder routine to investigate anything and everything! First, get comfortable, taking a deep breath and exhaling slowly. We will look silently at all parts of the object for 30 seconds, then share a few observations with each other. Next, we will think about what we observed, and share these thoughts. Third, we will ask questions. What are we curious about?

Let’s begin. Don’t forget to breathe in deeply and exhale slowly before you start!


(STEP 1) Look closely at Red Hills, Lake George for 30 seconds, and then share your thoughts with your companions.

Here are some questions to consider:

• Does this landscape remind you of a special place you have visited with your family?

• What part of the landscape has O’Keeffe emphasized?

• What is happening in the sky?

• What might the weather be like?

• Why might the hills be red?

• How does this landscape make you feel? Do you want to be in this place?

• Now, let’s ask more questions. What do you wonder about this place, the artist, and her process?



Are you ready to JUMP IN? Make sure your imagination is ready to go!

Take a look to see where you hope to land. On the hills? In the foreground? In the sky? Close your eyes!





• Open your eyes. What is this place like? What do you smell? Touch? Hear? See? Taste?

• Where are you? Share with your family your location and sensory discoveries.

• Are you floating in the sky on gentle, cool clouds? Swirling in the blazing rings of the setting sun?

• Are you sliding down smooth fields of red on the hidden side of the hill? What do you see on the other side of the hills?

• Where did your family members land? Did you choose different places to explore?


(STEP 3) Would you like to learn more about Georgia O’Keeffe and Red Hills, Lake George?

Alfred Stieglitz, Georgia O’Keeffe, 1918, Gelatin silver print, 4 1/2 x 3 1/2 in., Art Institute of Chicago, Alfred Stieglitz Collection

In her paintings, Georgia O’Keeffe (American, 1887-1986) seems to invite us into a place of calm, asking us to marvel at the natural world. You might have seen her very large paintings of flowers. She said, “When you take a flower in your hand and really look at it, it’s your world for the moment. I want to give that world to someone else.” 

Although the colors might remind us of the New Mexico desert that O’Keeffe lived in and loved, she titled the painting Red Hills, Lake George. Lake George is in the Adirondack mountains of New York, four hours north of New York City. Georgia O’Keeffe and her husband, photographer Alfred Stieglitz, often visited Lake George, where they enjoyed the sunsets in the fall, when the mountain across the lake became a “dark, burning red.” She said: “I found I could say things with color and shapes that I couldn’t say any other way—things I had no words for.”

She described her process: “It is only by selection, by elimination, by emphasis that we get at the real meaning of things.” What do you think she meant by this? You might want to compare a photograph of Lake George to this painting. What did O’Keeffe select, eliminate, and emphasize?


(STEP 4) Let’s create a collage.

Now that your imagination is in full swing, are you ready to make a collage inspired by Red Hills, Lake George? A collage is a work of art made by sticking various materials such as photographs, pieces of paper, or fabric to a background.

You can tear or cut paper. You can use tissue paper, scrap paper, or junk mail. You could experiment with aluminum foil or fabric. What do you have in your home that might be interesting in a landscape?

If you wish, you can add a person, perhaps a self-portrait, to the collage. Where will that figure be in the composition?

Start with a background (about copy paper size, at least as big as your hand). It can be any color and should be heavy enough to hold the pieces you are about to glue on it.

Tear large shapes from paper that is a different color than the background. Arrange (you can overlap!) these shapes (they don’t have to look like mountains—they can be just shapes!) and glue them onto the background.

If you want to add a figure, cut or tear a simple shape that represents a person. When you are making the figure, don’t worry about details or facial features. You can eliminate details! Maybe you are flying in the sky and we can’t see your face from where we are standing across the lake. See the examples below.

Sample collage based on Georgia O’Keeffe’s Red Hills, Lake George

Sample collage based on Georgia O’Keeffe’s Red Hills, Lake George

Give your artwork a title. Sign and date it. Add it to your family gallery. Send us a photo of your artwork:


Visit the website of the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum in Santa Fe, New Mexico, for images of O’Keeffe’s work and information about her life. And, best of all, there are suggestions for making art!

Visit Harvard’s Project Zero Thinking Routines for more See-Think-Wonder guided instructions.