Children’s Classes at The Art League School

Registration for spring term at The Art League School is now open, and that means young artists ages five and up can enroll in another slate of children’s classes and the popular summer art camp.

Children’s art classes get rave reviews from the students, who often take them over again — and from the parents, too.

“Although we’ve taken classes at other art centers, the Art League consistently offers teaching that is both high-quality and friendly … just perfect for children,” writes Caitlin Garvey, whose son Lucas started in Karen Day’s Art Fun-damentals class when he was five.

An example of Lucas's work in charcoal.

Since his first class, Lucas, now seven, has taken two more years in Art Fun-damentals and attended two summers’ worth of art camps.

Caitlin says he’s excited about the work he brings home — for example, asking for charcoals to continue pieces at home — and even enjoys teaching his younger brother sometimes. The classes have boosted his confidence, as well.

“We’ve seen Lucas become increasingly confident that he is an artist and has something of value to share with others. Watching those characteristics develop in Lucas has been wonderful,” Caitlin writes. An interest in photography led Lucas to enter a photo contest at Huntley Meadows Park, where he won second place in the youth category.

A Lucas watercolor.

Art Fun-damentals, for the youngest artists (ages 5–8) is a starting point for many students, who learn basic art skills and begin to explore their creative side in a variety of media. With several different teachers who mix up the lesson plans for repeat students, there’s always something new to learn.

And compared to art classes at school, where teachers are often limited in what they can do, Art League School classes are less restricted in time and resources. Classes are taught by fine artists, the materials are top-notch, and students have a full two hours (or more) to create. “They get to complete an amazing project,” says instructor Karen Day.

It was a good fit for Deb Kiefer’s son and his passion for art. “He’s always got a crayon or a pencil or something in his hand,” she says. “He’s definitely into art.”

He’s currently enrolled in Painting and Drawing for 9–12 year olds with Karen Day, but he’s also taken a number of other classes and goes to the summer art camps. When one class finishes, he always asks for another, Deb says.

Art League Summer Camps

Summer art campers try on masks of their own design.

Children’s classes at The Art League School include basic instruction in painting and drawing, and also courses in cartooning and mixed media. (Similar classes are available for teens.) There are summer art camps in ceramics, sculpture, jewelry, and fiber as well — not to mention workshops in clay animation where students finish their own movie.

After the jump, parents get in on the fun:

Karen Day teaches some of those classes, including Art Fun-damentals. The popular class has many different teachers, each with their own style. Karen covers a wide variety of media — mostly 2-D with clay and paper sculpture — and changes the class each term so students don’t get bored, because many students take the class more than once.

Karen says she teaches a structured class with lots of demonstrations, teaching young artists to put down what they see. Students learn the basics of color, dimension, perspective, and basic art language, and Karen introduces them to classical and modern artists.

Classes were so popular with the kids that recently, Karen has started teaching a course specifically for their parents, called My Turn! Art Night Out. “A lot of the parents were saying, ‘it’s too bad I can’t do this,’ ” Karen says. “It was a big hit.”

The class is based on a lot of the same projects the children are doing in their class, but geared toward adults. Parents leave the kids at home while they get to try non-threatening projects and have fun doing it. “Parents find that they have a lot of talent themselves,” Karen says.

An Art League camper finding her inner artist.

Karen has been teaching at the summer art camps since the beginning. Students there get to try a new subject each day, so they are exposed to a variety of media and teachers.

Deb says her son likes trying new things at art camps, and her nieces get to go when they visit, too. At an age when many children are still learning language and writing, “It’s just a great way for kids to express themselves,” she says.

“Creativity is so important, and it’s not something that a lot of time is spent on during the school day,” Caitlin says. “Lucas is very proud of what he’s learned in the art classes.”

Next up for Lucas: ceramics, as soon as he turns 10.

To browse course listings and to register, visit The Art League School website.