On Monday, Team Odette was invited into Young Art for a 60-minute drawing lesson, complimentary of Young Art in Boise, Idaho, and the fun and amazing manager, Shayla Putnam. [Full Disclosure: Our five-member family received the lesson for no charge, in exchange for this post and others on my social media networks. No other compensation was received by us. As always, all opinions expressed in this post are 100% my own.]
The first thing we encountered upon entering the Young Art shop, which is at the Boise Towne Square mall right next to the Talbot's store, was the bright, cheery, and colorful nature of every square inch of space inside the studio. There was no denying they were in tune with my M.O. of living our lives out loud, in living color! Look at the photos on the walls in the above and following photographs, and see if you can pick out the pictures we were trying to draw and emulate.
Two things confounded our visit to Young Art that day, which was no fault of Shayla's or anyone else associated with the art studio: (1) We arrived on time but could not find the location, exactly, being new in town and thanks to a weird GPS on my Google Maps which likes to mess with my head. :\ I swear it does... and (2)There was a Girl Scout troop party coming in immediately following our 60-min sesh, and since we were already several minutes into ours upon arrival, the entire time we were there was rush, rush, hurry, go, c'mon, rush, FINISH!
Some of us are more adaptable than others to these kinds of situations in Team Odette, so we all fully agreed that next time (and we do want a next time, it was unanimously decided), we'll make a longer appointment, arrive on time, and be more relaxed about the whole process. So if you go, please keep that in mind.
Shayla quickly had us pick out the photos we wanted to use for inspiration, and then she worked with the three teens, while assigning LeVelle to teach Rob and me all about the finer points of drawing our chosen works.
We were each given a sheet of paper and a pencil, along with instructions from Shayla to print our names on the dry-erase table (which was cool as heck, y'all) above our workspaces. LeVelle sat down between the Hubs and me and went back and forth, zippity-zip, showing us how to start with a rounded base shape and then sprout from there toward a full grown drawing. He was a congenial fellow who managed to keep us focused on the task, despite my constantly trying to turn and strain to get pictures of everything and everyone working and also despite working on two different drawings for the two of us, simultaneously.
Rob and I have both done a lot of sketching in our 40+ years of life, with different styles and - dare I say it? - levels of talent and specific finer points of artisticness (I swear that's a word; go with it!)... However, LeVelle wanted us NOT to do small sketch lines but rather strong, bold, single, dark pencil lines to create a finished work that looked more intentional and less, well, hesitant and sketchy. Shayla worked on the same concept with the three kids, which made our artistic daughter, Sophia, balk. I heard Shayla assert that her job was to teach and show how to accomplish this, and that Sophie and the others just needed to trust her. It was probably her most difficult task in teaching my stubborn kids - especially in such a hurry!
One of my absolute favorite things about this hour-long session was that my least artistic, most complain-y child, Jack, seemed really focused and into creating his chosen work. I was so thrilled about this, I could not even!
LeVelle seemed to pick up on the fact that my brain was all over the map, thinking about doing my work and following along with what he was teaching me, whilst also trying to grab pictures and think about what I wanted to post here on the blog! He may have given Rob a little more attention than me, therefore, or maybe I was just over on my own ****ing planet and seemed not to be with him. But I was, LeVelle. I swear I was. (He had a total zen quality about him, but I was so self-conscious and insecure about my work as we went along, that I probably drove him insane!)
See that look? That isn't the normal expression of a busily-"arting" Sophia. It conveyed annoyance and frustration to my expert maternal eye (at least for my own kids' sakes), and I tried to signal her to go with it, do as she was told, and maybe, just maybe, she might actually learn some techniques that helped her improve her work on her own. Who knows whether it will? But I encouraged, nonetheless.
I couldn't get over how much Jack really seemed to be into this! It was astounding, actually, if you know my son. Astounding.
These were LaVelle's dry erase-table work, demonstrating the strokes and details he wanted us to mimic on our own paper. Long, clean, dark lines, people. No sketching!! ;)
Southpaw Sophia finally seemed willing and determined to get started. Let's GO, kids! Clock's ticking!
Rob, too, was very intent on his work. Other than me, who was busy taking photos and absorbing All. The. Things., everyone was. We were having tons of fun.
Curls, AKA Chloe, having a peek around at the others' work. Hurry up, child, and draw your outline out! This one is the perfectionist who didn't seem to grasp the concept of "hurry up, party is coming" on Monday's visit! :\
See this expression on Jack's face?! I LOVE it!! It's sheer and pure joy, a real emotion, and not just a "oh, I gotta pretend to smile and cheese for Mom's lens" moment. He was actually enjoying himself, and that thrilled me to my soul. If nothing else, this was a WIN!
LaVelle knew we were running out of time, so in the colorizing portion of our lesson, his hands and fingers moved quickly to dab out, blend, and illustrate what he wanted me to accomplish on my own drawing which, you may or may not be able to figure out by now, is supposed to be Dory from the Disney movies, Finding Nemo and Finding Dory. (Also, I am Dory. Dory is me. Completely and utterly alike, we are. I love her! How could I not have chosen my girl D?)
The thing that disappointed me during this phase of the work was, as you can see in the bottom middle, LaVelle had to take over the outlining, post-coloring, of my Dory's lines. I knew I was fully capable of doing this, and doing a pretty decent job at it no less, but again, the time crunch made it necessary. Booo, time crunch!
By that point, Jack was just about done with his work and was just waiting for instruction from Shayla on what to next. He always finishes first at home - quality be damned! - so this was no big surprise to me.
I dont know whose phone that was - Shayla's? Rob's? Chloe's? But I guess somehow Sophia voluntold someone to look up the creature she was drawing so she could stop having to crane her neck to see what her drawing was supposed to resemble. That was Rob's main critique: He wished there was a way to pull down in front of each student artist the artwork we were trying to emulate, so we had no need to get up and walk over to them to see a detail and could have them directly in front of us for faster working time.
Again, I felt this was completely something I could have accomplished, but for the sake of pushing through the late time, LaVelle started the background painting on my work, outlining the more difficult areas and then giving the paper back to me to fill in the blank space. But it's okay. I didn't overly mind and completely understood the need for this.
Ah! We have color on Chloe's work. At last! Just keep swimming, just keep swimming...
I was almost - but not quite - finished. I liked my Dory, despite the fact that she looked more like Dory's even less-reliable cousin (ha!) and I had a few major flubs. Yeah. Not too bad for a quick dash through the artistic world, eh?
Meanwhile, our Navy Veteran Rob was over there pushing through to get the finishing touches put on his work. Go, Hubs, Go! I was turning in the the cheering squad for Team Odette to finish. Seriously.
By this point, Shayla was busy helping my kids, helping two other adorable little girls who had come in to finish a previously-begun sculpture work, and do damage control with the growing irritation amongst the Girl Scout crowd. They did not appear to be the resilient type who could appreciate that there was a delay. And we were the cause of it. Eh. It happened; I'm over it.
After LaVelle helped Chloe, he took me over to the Glittering Station. I don't know if that's what they really called it (I'm guessing not), but I had to name it that because, um, that's what I do. He gave me a small handful of extra-fine glitter and had me sprinkle it over my work. We were each given the choice on whether to do this and I know for sure that Jack and Rob opted out. Sophia may have, too. But give ME the glitter, yes, please! Also, I was curious about what spray they were using to seal the glitter and paint in, because we do art in our homeschool, Sweet Pea Academy, and this information might very well come in handy. Turns out: HAIRSPRAY. It was hairspray. So there's your little Art hack from me for today. Take that, overpriced art/craft store merchandise! ;)
At this point, Sophia and Chloe were getting the, "C'mon! C'mon! Hurry up! Finish!" pep talk from Mom, which was surely counterproductive. Sophia is an artiste, which means this is the only area in her life which she feels like a certain level of perfectionism is necessary. Chloe, on the other hand, is a perfectionist about everything in life (like her mama), and I am trying to get her to accept that sometimes, good enough IS good enough. But it's hard.
GO, GIRLS, GO!!
While the girls raced to the finish line - now about 15 minutes past our allotted time, ohmigosh, the boys and I checked out the rest of the art studio. There were lots of pictures on all the walls from which to choose a project, and all kinds of bright and colorful materials lined the front tables that greet aspiring artists as they enter the door. It was definitely an inviting environment, I felt!
I know for sure that I will have to pick up some supplies for Sophia to improve on and expand her artworks, for Christmas probably. There was plenty of inspo here!
I found this signage about Young Art's Summer Camp on Shayla's desk at the front, and while it's pricey, I'll have to figure out when it starts and if we ca still get in on the Early Bird Special. Sophia would like to go and, from what I gather, Chloe would, too. Which is telling because, though both were stressing about being SO super pressed for time that their artwork on Monday didn't turn out exactly the way they had in mind, they liked the process and experience enough to want to come back again and again!
These are the chalks and tempera paints we used to colorize our drawings. We learned out to blend and overlap the colors to create just the right shades, cut in the edges while painting so as not to go "outside the lines," and more. There was a lot of rushing, sure, but education was mixed in there too - if you were paying attention. ;) I was!
Go, Chloe, go! Stop being perfect! Just don't make any dang mistakes! NO! I'm kidding! Hurry up! ;)
Glitter time for Sophia's work at last! Woot!
... And then the hairspray treatment, to set.
And look who was finally finished and ready for the glitter treatment from LaVelle! Finally!
*~*~* ~* Sprinkle, sprinkle *~*~~
Rather than take home our artworks right there and then, Shayla convinced us to take a spin around the mall and allow the paint and setting spray to dry for a good 20 minutes or so. We ended up in the toys and games store around the corner and found plenty of things to entertain ourselves with, like this "Coffee makes me POOP" shot glass that, um, Rob definitely needs! :P
And now, in order of age from oldest to youngest, here are our works: A Jawa from Star Wars Episode IV, created by Rob.
Dory, by Melanie (that's me!)
Charmander from Pokemon, by Chloe
Light Sabers from Star Wars, by Jack
And a... something I forget... help me please! ... from Pokemon also, I think? by Sophia
(I'll try to update the post when she wakes up and can tell me definitively what it is!)
What I love about Young Art Lessons is this ^^^ right here. Drop off your kids for supervised time, during which they will be productively engaged in art education, while you do your shopping around the mall. Even though my kids are a bit older (12, 14 and 15 as of this writing), I might decide I need to take advantage of this opportunity come holiday shopping season time. Y'know? It's GENIUS!
The great thing about Young Art Lessons is that they offer all different kinds of lessons, cater to a wide variety of ages and skill levels, and have an array of different media available to use in different artworks, all to help the young artist (or older ones, like Rob and me) develop a finished work of which one can be quite proud.
So what are you waiting for? I highly recommend a Young Art Lesson booking if you're in an area where they are offered! I can't wait until the kids' next session, maybe even as soon as tomorrow! It'll be super fun!
Thanks to Shayla, John, and LaVelle for making our experience such a great one!