Class Artz Academy provides after school art classes for children across Sydney’s eastern suburbs, and have quickly adapted to the new reality of shutdowns and social distancing by developing a series of free online art classes. With most children home art projects are one of many activities parents will be looking to fill the long uncertain days ahead.
With this in mind Kidsbook caught up with owner/director Renee McDonald, for some insights on art, its capacity to heal, and why the goal is not to turn your children into the next Picasso.
- Participation is more important than technique
- Art can help heal and foster creativity
- Class Artz has a free online art program
Tell us about your operation and what you do?
We run art classes for 10 schools across Sydney’s eastern suburbs and the Sutherland Shire. 240+ students engage in our after school classes each week, which are run by qualified art teachers. These take place on-premises after school ends as an after school activity.
You have also developed online classes?
Since Class Artz Academy can no longer run classes in our schools due to coronavirus, it was important to me to still bring art to children. So we developed Home Artz, our Free Online Art Program, which is a resource for helping parents and children to keep creating at home during this period of isolation.
There are step-by-step modules which allow you to see the process from start to finish. The ideas and examples include drawing, painting, printmaking, sculpture, collage, mixed media and more. Modifications and substitutions can be made with any of the examples shown, and I provide tips and ideas on how to tailor it to their individual child’s needs.
I want it to be easy for parents to use what they already had at home stored in their art and craft box, or even their children’s pencil cases. When we are home-bound and can’t go out, we have to be resourceful with what we use to create.
What role does art have in these trying times?
We must not forget that our children have had to process two major crises in a short space of time – first the bushfires and now the coronavirus epidemic. This can make them feel powerless and confused.
Art can help heal and be cathartic. Fostering creativity and tapping into their creative bubble will really help children during this time. It gives them an emotional outlet when they don’t have the words or vocabulary, and helps them process their experiences and deal with overwhelming emotions.
‘Fostering creativity and tapping into their creative bubble will really help children during this time’
What are the benefits of art for children, their brains and overall development?
Art is a visual stimulus and point of creativity that will improve your child’s fine motor skills and enhance their creative problem-solving abilities. It also encourages imaginative thinking, and forces children to think out of the box.
What do kids love most about your activity?
The magic about our classes is that kids feel no pressure, and they are allowed to be creative. Many of our students come in with little to no experience in drawing and they end up making something they are really proud of. We give them that space to be creative, use and touch new materials – even after a long day of school which can be draining, especially for younger kindies.
What advice do you have for parents doing art at home with children?
Anyone can be intimidated by an activity they are not good at, and art often falls into that category. The first step is to do the art activity together with your child. This will spark communication and help make the task more achievable. The fact is that art stimulates high interest levels, so your skills are less important than your child seeing you are involved.
‘Your skills are less important than your child seeing you are involved with their project‘
When it comes to the actual task try working from an example so you have a goal to work towards. A step by step process is also a good idea, so you work in achievable bite size chunks and move on until you are done. It also doesn’t matter what they do, but it needs to be fun and have variety.
The excitement and spark comes from the making, and the important part is the magic unfolding as your child develops with the process and experiments with a new method or material. Just remember that it’s not about them becoming the next famous Picasso, it’s about the process and how it can help them.
‘Just remember that it’s not about them becoming the next famous Picasso, it’s about the process and how it can help them’
Do you have a shortlist of essential art materials to get started?
The beauty of art is you don’t actually need much in the way of materials to get started with. There is usually enough in your child’s pencil case – so a set of coloured markers, a black sharpie, pencils and paper is more than enough for hours of fun and creativity.
You will also be surprised what you can find around the house when you start to dig into cupboards, so using what you have is a good place to start.
What other art resources can you recommend for parents?
Choice is important as children continue to develop and create art, and we are lucky to have many online resources available. One of my favourites is Art For Kids Hub which is a great resource with videos of side by side drawing.
About Class Artz Academy
Class Artz Academy is a boutique Art School which offers an 8 week mixed media drawing and painting program using step by step proven methods by highly qualified and experienced teachers in a very nurturing and self-esteem building atmosphere. Their classes are suitable for all students from Kindergarten to Year 6 at select schools in NSW, with convenient pick up locations on school grounds – after school hours.