DENHAM SPRINGS — A dozen aspiring young artists exploring the opportunities of being creative with water colors pursued their artistic efforts on Saturday, representing the latest children’s outreach program sponsored by the Arts Council of Livingston Parish.
The art class, held at the Arts Council’s Gallery on Hummell Street, featured lively discussion among the fledgling artists under the tutelage of their teacher, Shelly Frederick.
Frederick, who has been teaching art classes to children and adults for more than 15 years, said she “thoroughly enjoys teaching art to children. The children are eager to learn … . They are so excited. Some of the youngsters here today have already been to three or four classes and they are serious about their art. At the same time, they enjoy being together and working with each other.”
Ellie Kliebert, 8, tells the class, “I just made a new color, it’s maroon-purple. I made that color by mixing some of my paints together. I’m so excited.”
Looking ahead, the Arts Council will close out its 2018 Children’s Art Program with a session on Saturday, Dec. 1, from 10 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. at the gallery. That class will mark the end of what Mary Felder, board member and immediate past president of the Arts Council, termed a “most successful year” for the council’s children’s outreach program.
Felder said the council offers a children’s art class on select Saturday mornings every month. Those classes offer children the opportunity to experiment with watercolors, acrylics, mixed media using such materials as foil, pastel chalks and colored pencils.
Additionally, the council supports youth art class at Live Oak Elementary taught by local artist Kerry Curtain, who frequently shows his work at the gallery. The council also supports summer sessions where the visual and performing arts are taught in special classes. Some of those classes, especially the performing arts, are taught at the Lockhart Community Center.
Charlotte Reynolds, the council’s secretary, said the council offered three-day painting classes at the gallery in June and July and that enrollment was at capacity. She said that because of the popularity of the art classes, more sessions will probably be offered this summer.
“When the schedule for next year’s children’s art classes is prepared, we will let the people know. We will have our summer class schedule ready by March and registration can follow,” Reynolds said.
The arts council pays all children’s art class teachers and provides supplies for some of the classes. A nominal fee of $10 is charged for some of the classes.
Parents can learn about children’s art classes and register for them via email through the council’s website at www.artslivingston.org, Reynolds said.
Discussing the children’s program, Felder said, “Art is very popular with young people. During the past year we had several hundred children participate in one or more of our classes. It’s rare that we don’t have a full complement of children at each of our sessions. Our classes usually fill up within a few hours after the announcement. Supporting art programs for children is one of the most important things that the Arts Council accomplishes,” she said.
Back at the latest art class, the children were seriously engaged in painting their Mr. and Mrs. Scarecrows. Frederick explained that she chose painting scarecrows as the November theme because the scarecrows related to the autumn season.
Young painters Ellie and her sister Alex both said they have been drawing and painting for about four years.
Ellie notes, “I’ve been painting for half of my life!” Both said that they enjoy drawing and that sketching is something that they just started doing naturally.
Mahi Pathak, a student at Juban Parc Elementary School, said she began drawing when she was 3. “I just started drawing things for my grandfather. He was a photographer and he liked art. I enjoy drawing and painting. This is what I enjoy doing the most,” she said.
Molly Powell, an 8-year-old student at Eastside Elementary, said she started drawing when she was 3. She carefully painted her picture in bright colors, dutifully staying “within the lines.
Olivia Lovette, a student who attends Seventh Ward Elementary, echoed what most of the other youngsters said when she reported, “I just started drawing things when I was younger. Now I enjoy painting with watercolors and acrylics. It’s just something that I like doing.”
The outspoken Alex Kliebert said, “I want to be an artist when I grow up so that I can sell my paintings and get rich! I want to buy a really big house for all my family and friends. Even though I want to be an artist, math is my best subject and I am already studying algebra.” She is in the third grade.
Frederick said the art classes continue to be popular because of a universal interest in being creative that starts at an early age. She said that once the children come to an art class, many continue to return to learn more techniques and face more challenges as they gradually grow into being creative artists.
“As was said earlier, art is as old as mankind and training artists who will keep the tradition going forward is important," Frederick said. "For many an artist, their career starts right here with simple classes that teach the basics. The kids really enjoy being here and what we are doing is important to them and to the future of the arts in Livingston Parish.”