Lillstreet Student Spotlight: Morgan Lyons

Morgan Lyons is a Lillstreet student and Chicago native. She is currently a senior at Lane Tech High School and is a talented drawing and painting artist.  Her work is inspired by Classical realism, and she recently spent her summer abroad studying at Florence Academy of Art.  One of a handful of young students to receive a scholarship to this program, we took a moment to learn about her current practice and how it will be influenced by her experience in Italy.

When and where did you start painting? How did this medium speak to you?

I first began painting in my art class in high school. Oil paints were the medium that spoke to me most because they can do amazing things once you know how to control them.

What teachers and artists have most influenced you?

While I am inspired by artists like Leonardo Di Vinci and Sargent, the artists that inspire me the most I have met myself. There are a few in my mind that stand out especially.  Last summer, I took Bob Horn’s figure drawing class at Lillstreet, where I learned how to use unfamiliar mediums and strengthen my drawing ability.  My high school art teacher, Mr. Ceh, and my instructor at Florence Academy of Art, Simone Moritz, have both strongly influenced and continue to inspire me.

What do you most like to paint and why?

I most like to paint people. There is something human about painting hair, skin, eyes, and so on, that isn’t there while painting clothes or objects, as enjoyable as that is too.

What is the most important step of your painting process?

The most important step in my painting process is the moment when accuracy is reached. I believe that underneath every good painting is a great drawing, and without it off proportions serve as a distraction from the overall painting. I push myself every time I pick up a paintbrush to pay close attention to accuracy before I get to the fun parts like details and adding color.

I heard you were abroad this summer? How exciting! Tell us about the program and your experience.

I applied for and was accepted to a program that the Florence Academy of Art holds every summer. It’s a month of a class or classes of the student’s choice. The classes are ones that anyone of any age and from anywhere could choose to go to. I was lucky enough to be one of six all-age and international people to receive scholarship to go study Academy for a month. Classes were weekdays, nine to five, for the month of July.

Apart from having the opportunity to live in the beautiful city of Florence and interact with a new culture,  my  time  at the Academy was what made it such a wonderful experience . I was amazed with how much I learned in just a few short weeks. The students and teachers were all such engaged,  skilled, and generally kind people. There was something to be learned from all of them.

What did you learn in Italy that you don’t feel you could have learned here in the US?

While I think there are many very skilled artists and teachers here in the US, I believe the Academy takes painting and drawing to a much more technical, serious level than many places here in the US do. Lessons in Italy on art are concrete, straight forward in the way they are taught. They believe that creativity and individuality is something that comes after you have learned a good foundational skillset, and that is what I believe the Academy can give.

What are your goals for painting in the future?

Right now, I am working on a still life. The skills I’m trying to strengthen while doing this are my hand-eye coordination and my ability to create light in a painting. My goal is to keep improving. If my experience this summer taught me anything it is that there is always, always, more to be learned. I hope to do just that in the future.

What is your best advice to anyone just starting out in painting?

My advice would be to be patient with yourself. All artists make errors, but it’s those who are patient enough to correct instead of give up that become the greatest.



Fall Session I: Class and Open Studio Schedule

Hello All!

I hope everyone is enjoying the first week of Fall session! Open studio will open on Monday, September 18th. Here’s the class and open studio schedule so you can start planning your projects!

See you in the studio,


***EDIT 9/29/17: Lillstreet recently shifted webhosts and the transition seems to have effected how images are loaded onto the blog. We’re working to correct this issue; thanks for your patience!***

Fall SI Open Studio Schedule 9.14

HAT FORMING: WEARABLE SCULPTURE with DJ DeGayner on Monday Nights!

Hello! My name is DJ DeGayner. I’m a milliner in Chicago and I’ve been teaching hat making for over 4 years now. My students and I create everything from floral headbands and sun hats, to avant garde runway headpieces. Good news! I’m teaching a hat making course this fall. But this course is special because it’s the foundation to becoming a do-it-yourself milliner: Hat blocking.

In this course, the focus will be on creating a one-of-a-kind blocked felt hat. Students will design and  carve their own hat block (which is a 3D form used to sculpt headpieces) and stretch a felt hood over this form to create a finished hat. We will also work on traditional millinery sewing techniques.

After the block is carved, you use a felt hood (of any color) and steam to stretch over the form. Then it’s roped & pinned down to emphasize the carved shapes, and let set for 24 hours.

It is then removed from the block and finished on the inside with a millinery ribbon.

We will focus on 3D carving skills to create something wearable and original. These skills can be used to create hats on your own, even after the course ends. If you’re interested in learning more about millinery materials and techniques, this class is the perfect start.

If you are interested in my work, please check out my website or email me with any questions. I look forward to seeing you in my course!

If you are interested in seeing more artist’s millinery work, please look at:

Philip Treacy

Angela Moreno


And countless more… just google hat blocking.


Register for the class today!

Hat Forming: Wearable Sculpture w/ DJ DeGayner

Mondays 6:30-9:30pm, 10 weeks, starts on September 11th


Don’t forget to follow us online to keep up with everything happening int he department!

Instagram // Facebook

Limited Open Studio: Saturdays, August 12 and 26

Heads up!

Saturday, August 12th: There will be no open studio in the print room because of a workshop happening in the space. There will still be regularly scheduled open studio in the sewing room.

Saturday, August 26th: There will be no open studio in the print room because of the Fall Open House which will be using the space. There will still be regularly scheduled open studio in the sewing room.


Student Spotlight Series: Meet Stephanie Gasparich

Our Photography Dept. Director, Jeanne Donegan, took a moment to interview one of our flourishing Lillstreet Photography students, Stephanie Gasparich. Stephanie took her first Portrait Photography class at Lillstreet in Summer 2015 and has since established her own portrait business.

Check out the interview below and be sure to keep an eye out for our upcoming Portrait Photography courses at Lillstreet in the upcoming Fall 2017 Session!

Can you start by telling us how you first became interested in photography?

I wish I could say that I picked up a camera as a child and fell in love, but my passion started only recently. After talking to my husband about upgrading our camera for our travels, he bought me a DSLR for Christmas almost three years ago, as well as a lesson with our wedding photographer, Christy Tyler. I didn’t take it out of the box for almost a month because I was terrified of using such an expensive piece of equipment. I started studying photography online, and then I had my lesson with Christy. That’s when I became hooked. I spent most of my free time reading about photography, watching tutorials, and practicing. A few months later I took my first course at Lillstreet and that’s when it crossed the threshold of obsession.

What was your experience like at Lillstreet?

I remember both my class and my classmates very fondly, and I learned a ton. I didn’t know what to expect when I signed up for the course, but I was really happy with the content and the assignments. I had very little experience at the time, so it was a little intimidating to show my work at first and be critiqued. However, everyone in the class, including the instructor, was encouraging and supportive. Oddly enough, my favorite homework assignment was self-portraiture. It’s something I NEVER would have done on my own, and really enjoyed! I’ll be taking another course as soon as I find one that fits my schedule.

You’ve since built up your own photographic portrait business, which seems to be doing really well! What is it for you about portraiture that you find so compelling?

I just find people so compelling! We’re inundated with photos of people on a daily basis, and yet we never grow tired of looking at them–at least I don’t. Creating a shot that captures someone’s personality or connection with others is really special.

Would you say you have a particular style to your work? What’s your approach to a shoot generally like?

I’m still developing my style, but I try to always use natural light to create an image that feels fresh. I like to start my sessions by giving my client(s) a few hints about what tends to be the most flattering for women and men. I don’t like giving a ton of instruction because I think that can limit people. I’ve found that most people are really great at posing! I also like to show my clients some images in camera during the shoot. Most of the time it gives them a major boost in confidence, and then the session gets really fun! And lastly, I always try to get people laughing because there’s nothing like a genuine smile in a photo.

What advice would you give to a Lillstreet student who might be considering taking their first photography class?

Go for it! I loved the two courses I took at Lillstreet because they pushed me out of my comfort zone. I think that’s equally important for both seasoned and new photographers. The assignments force you to think about your craft differently, and have had a positive effect on my work and how I think about my subjects. I learned a great deal from my classmates as well. I wouldn’t be where I am today without the portrait course I took.

To see more of Stephanie’s work visit her website

Or follow her on Instagram @stephaniegphotography

Summer Session II: Class and Open Studio Schedule

Hello Lovely Textiles Department Community! Tomorrow is the start of Summer Session II classes and open studio. This schedule is subject to tweaks over the next week or so: please make sure to check back here for the most recent updates before heading in to the studio.

See ya soon!


You know how to knit, Do you know how to weave?

All of our clothing is made up of tiny little fibers all attached to one another to create a structure and hold a shape.

Garments unfortunately aren’t indestructible.

Have you ever snagged a shirt and about two yards of thread were held between you and the edge of a counter?

Have you ever tried to button up a shirt, and it pulled in all the wrong directions?

A knit is, ‘make (a garment, blanket, etc.) by interlocking loops of wool or other yarn with knitting needles or on a machine.’

A woven is, ‘form (fabric or a fabric item) by interlacing long threads passing in one direction with others at a right angle to them.’

Now that you know the basics of a knit a weave why don’t you try creating them, or working with them.

This summer at Lillstreet so many different types of classes are offered in the textile department, and if you’d like to put your knitting on the back burner you can come learn how to weave (with me)!

Weaving 101 will be offered again this summer- so sign up now. I will be teaching you how to build your own loom and learn techniques such as shapes, pattern and fringe (which is all the rage!).

Check out the first works from our current Weaving 101 class,


AND if that is not inspiration enough here are a few artists you can follow online and then learn how to weave like them! // @mozegoods // @allyrous // @wovenblush


Get inspired and learn a new skill this summer!