Imagine if Lionel Messi had never run conditioning drills or if Ed Sheeran had never practiced his scales. Would we have one of the greatest soccer players or most talented singer/songwriters right now? No. Because practice makes better. (Who wants perfect anyway?)
That's precisely the philosophy behind Orange Easel School of Art. The children's art school that started in Allison Jensen's basement in 2012 has grown into two locations (Liberty and Platte Woods) offering art classes and camps for all ages. What it doesn't provide are cookie cutter craft projects to fill time.
Jensen's philosophy on art is simple--art isn't something that you make, it's something that you do. It's a skill like any other and skills are made stronger by education, technique, and practice, practice, practice. And while many think of Orange Easel because of their innovative approach to toddler and younger children's art through interactive storytimes and free play, they also offer more intensive courses for students Kindergarten through 12th grade focused on building the skills that will support greater creativity.
Sara Woolfolk, director of the Platte Woods location, says that the weekly classes during the school year help students explore the options and find their chosen mediums.
"Just like dance or sports or martial arts; our kids come to class each week for an hour. Students can sign up for the semester or go month by month. Every month we have a different focus. In the fall, we start with pastels and then go on to clay, acrylic, watercolor, metal, fiber. Our goal is to expose them to a wide variety of media so they can figure out what they like to do and help them get better at doing it," says Woolfolk.
In creating a habit of practicing art, they also create a community surrounding it. Friendships are formed and support systems grow organically when kids find other kids that enjoy the same things. That network of like-minded students can be very encouraging as they find their way in what can sometimes be a solitary pursuit. Kids also learn how to critique productively and receive criticism in a way that makes them better artists. Jensen describes their community as acting as the coaches for creators.
In addition to monthly exploratory classes, Orange Easel offers drawing boot camps throughout the year for students who want to focus on form. Woolfolk emphasizes that all of their classes focus on the process of art, not the outcome.
"We aren't aiming for something to put on the fridge. We want to develop the skills that they need to continue creating outside of class," Woolfolk says.
As art classes stay on the chopping block in many school curriculums, the time to dig in and learn real techniques is a luxury that many students a fantastic in their typical classrooms. Giving the gift of focus is an amazing way to foster creativity in students that connect with art.
Orange Easel has two locations: 249 W. Mill St. Ste 107 in Liberty and 7617 NW Prairie View Road at Platte Woods. Registration for fall classes opens August 1st. For a full list of courses, visit OrangeEaselArt.com.