What can I expect in my child’s free trial class?

Our free trial class introduces new students to our basic methods of instruction. Students are presented with a choice of pictures to choose from based on their age. Teachers then demonstrate how to draw using shapes, and our 4 step breakdown. Once the picture is complete the student will ink their pencil lines with Sharpie, and lastly color their picture with either crayon, colored pencil, or chalk pastel, depending on their age. While the goal of this trial class is to get each student acquainted with the studio, teachers and drawing methods, our greatest concern is to ensure that each student leaves the studio feeling successful and eager to learn more!

How do I schedule a makeup?

While we encourage our students to attend consistent weekly classes in order to support their continued practice, we do understand that conflicts occur! If you need to miss a class due to illness or vacation, please notify our office in advance via phone or e-mail. We will contact you to reschedule your class during a time that works for you, Make-ups must be completed within one month of the date missed, and cannot be used as credit to the following month’s tuition.

How is your program individualized?

We use an original curriculum developed by our founder as a framework for approaching each student. Based on a child’s age, we will determine where in our program they will begin after drawing with them in the free trial class. Once a student is placed in our program, they have the opportunity to choose their own pictures from sets of three drawings at a time, giving them freedom to follow their own preferences and keep them engaged. If we notice that a student is struggling with a concept, or that they have mastered a topic and are ready to move on, we will make note of our observations and shift them within the program so that it is tailored to meet their present needs. This programming, combined with one-on-one teaching, enables us to successfully teach classes that combine students of varying ages and levels.

Why does my child have to complete the drawing program before they are allowed to paint?

The easiest answer to this question is the analogy that “you can’t run before you walk.” Painting involves a myriad of complicated topics such as color theory & color mixing, brush selection & paint application, and binders and mediums which can be confusing to a beginning artist. For a student of any age, trying to paint before learning to draw would be like attempting to ride a motorcycle before balancing on a bike! Because painting is technically “drawing with a brush”, a strong foundation in drawing skills is essential so that small motor skills, brush manipulation, and confidence are gained before attempting to mix in more complex painting techniques. If your child is eager to paint but has not yet progressed into our painting program, we can venture into watercolor pencil to help her get acquainted with a paintbrush. Watercolor pencils are applied in thin layers like colored pencils, and then brushed over with water to activate the pigment into “paint”. This material is a wonderful bridge to teach simple brushing techniques, care of materials, and the properties of paint. Soon she will be ready to progress into watercolor painting, then eventually acrylic, and finally oil. Our program is based on the notions of step-by-step learning and mastery before moving on, as both of these methods ensure deep understanding and confidence in our students.

How quickly should my child complete their picture in class?

If your child is new to the studio you can expect that they will be working on the fundamentals of drawing through repetition of technique. Teaching these skills is a unique process, and will take a different amount of time for each and every student. As a generality, though, you can expect your child to complete a picture about every 2 weeks in class. As students progress through our program into harder drawing techniques and more complex media, the time that it takes to finish a picture increases as well. For example, a new student may draw and color a chalk pastel picture of the face of a cat, whereas a more advanced student will be challenged with completing a picture of the entire body. This small change can easily increase work time to about 3 weeks. In addition, time spent on a piece of artwork increases as our students move from dry media (such as crayon, colored pencil, marker, chalk pastel, and oil pastel) into painting (watercolor, acrylic, and oil). Once a student is responsible for mixing their own colors on a palette as opposed to choosing the closest match out of a pencil box, you can count on an additional 1-2 weeks per picture. This means that if your child is in the painting program then they will bring home a picture about every 3-4 weeks (or 4-8 weeks if in our advanced or teen programs). We ask for your help, too, in emphasizing the PROCESS of creative learning with your child each time that they bring a picture home, as opposed to only the product. The beautiful still life hanging on your wall contains many deep teaching moments that your child would love to share with you! Ask them about drawing using shapes, touch and draw, or fencing, and you will get a peek into their learning processes in the studio.

How do I track my child’s progress?

We know from observing our children what a “light bulb” moment is. Maybe you’ve seen this as your child learns to read or add; one day it is all a bit fuzzy for them and the next something clicks and they just “get it”! The important thing to realize about this process is that there is no way to be sure how much exposure children will need with a subject before their own “light bulb” moment occurs. What we CAN be sure of is that the more exposure they have, the sooner the light bulb will go off. All children develop at their own pace which is why it is essential to provide an individualized approach that allows for learning differences so that no child is under-challenged, or conversely, left to struggle. The most effective way to track your child’s progress at home is through the use of portfolios of students’ best work that reflect a student’s long-term progress. This is why we recommend that our families keep a succession of their child’s artwork in a portfolio. In this format, a single student’s progression – independent from his or her peers – can be seen clearly.

Can my child bring in a picture to draw for a school project or as a gift?

We are more than happy to help in class with a painting for Grandma’s birthday or a school project, and ask that at least a 1-2 month notice be given to our teachers so that they can assist your child in completing the art piece without the stress of a deadline. If your child is new to our program, we suggest that a picture be chosen from our curriculum, as any picture that is brought from home will need to be “broken down” into shapes and 4 steps, which will add at least a week to the drawing process.

Why can’t my child draw from their imagination instead of from your curriculum?

This is one of our favorite questions to answer! Because we cannot see the picture inside of a child’s mind, we are unable to assist them in carrying out their vision in the studio. Frustration is common when an adult attempts to interfere with a child’s imaginative process, as placing our own interpretation of what is “right” or “best” can crush a child’s desire to explore their art freely. Imaginative free drawing is an essential part of development for a child, and time for this should be encouraged at home independently. If we were to “teach” our students as they pursued imaginative drawing in the studio, we would essentially be cheering them on with positive support for the duration of the class, and while this is a joy for us to do, it is not worth the cost of tuition when this is something that a parent can do at home for free with no training! Instead, we emphasize that class time be focused on teaching our students how to “see”  and draw what is in front of them in order to train the eye and the hand in realistic technique. A foundation of solid drawing methods will serve a student throughout their lifetime whether they continue on the road to realism, or utilize what they have learned to improve their imaginative drawing skills.

Why do I sometimes see teachers drawing on the student artwork?

Demonstration is an essential part of the teaching process. While a teacher can verbally explain how to execute a technique, often times much is lost in translation as the student struggles to interpret what the teacher’s words mean in practice. We have found, over decades of teaching, that a combination of “telling” and “showing” creates the most successful outcome for students. Our teachers’ one-on-one demonstrations with each student provide them with the opportunity to observe and then practice each still so that it quickly and effectively integrated into their memory. You may also see our teachers putting the “finishing touches” a piece of artwork at the end of class, and the reason for this is the same. Finishing a picture is often the most difficult step, so we assist our students in checking for neatness and adding a final highlight to make the picture “pop” until they are confident in completing the process independently.